Oil rose toward $69 a barrel on Tuesday, snapping two days of falls, as the U.S. dollar steadied below three-week highs and ahead of weekly stocks data forecast to show a fall in U.S. crude inventories.
The dollar rose against a basket of currencies but stayed below a two-week high scaled after U.S. jobs data last week stoked expectations for a Federal Reserve rate rise later this year.
U.S. light crude for July delivery rose 57 cents to $68.66 a barrel by 0547 GMT, having settled 35 cents lower on Monday at $68.09, more than $2 below a seven-month high above $70 touched on Friday.
London Brent crude was up 57 cents at $68.45. The currency market has been driving the oil market since the middle of May. Traders are looking more at the dollar than at equity markets now, said Tetsu Emori, fund manager at Tokyo-based Astmax Co Ltd.
It is quite difficult to take positions above $70 for now. It is too risky, he added.
Oil prices have more than doubled since the lows of this winter, tracking stronger equities markets, with the S&P 500 index rallying 39 percent since sliding to a one-year closing low on March 9.
Asian shares fell on Tuesday for a second consecutive session as investors worried that a recent rally may be overdone, with Japan's Nikkei average down 0.93 percent by 0546 GMT, and the MSCI index of regional stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> down 1.21 percent, after having fallen 2.1 percent on Monday.
Hopes for a global economic recovery have also sustained the current price rally, and the world's top oil forecasters are likely to paint a slightly more bullish outlook in their monthly market reports this week, suggesting oil demand could bottom out and inventories start falling in the next few months.
Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), adviser to 28 industrialized countries, told Reuters on Monday the agency expects oil stocks in the developed OECD economies to fall to 57 days by year-end from the current 63 days, if OPEC's output continues at current levels and demand recovers.
More market direction could emerge later on Tuesday as industry group the American Petroleum Institute releases its weekly U.S. inventory data at 2030 GMT, to be followed by U.S. Energy Information Administration data on Wednesday.
Analysts polled by Reuters said they expect crude stocks to have fallen by 400,000 barrels last week, while distillate and gasoline stocks could have risen by 1.2 and 1.3 million barrels respectively.
Last week, U.S. crude oil stocks rose by a more-than-expected 2.9 million barrels.
(Editing by Ben Tan)