Crude oil prices lowered slightly and hovered above $85 a barrel in Asian trade Thursday, as investors opted for caution ahead of the Chinese GDP data.

Light sweet crude for the August delivery fell 0.29 percent or 25 cents to $85.56 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange during Asian trading hours. Brent crude oil futures for the August delivery declined 0.28 percent or 28 cents to $99.95 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.

The Chinese second-quarter economic activity data is to be released Friday along with retail and industrial production figures. The GDP data is expected to show that the world’s second-largest oil consumer grew at the slowest pace in three years in the second quarter.

Oil futures surged Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Department reported that crude supplies fell for the second week, and refineries operated at the highest rate in almost 5 years, suggesting an improvement in the demand. Light sweet crude for the August delivery gained 2.3 percent or $1.90 and settled at $85.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude oil raised $2.26 to settle at $100.23 a barrel.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve released minutes from a recent meeting, dashing hopes of a fresh dose of quantitative easing (QE3) in the near future to bolster the fragile U.S. recovery.

A few members expressed the view that further policy stimulus likely would be necessary to promote satisfactory growth in employment and to ensure that the inflation rate would be at the Committee's goal, the FOMC said. It added that additional policy action could be warranted if the economic recovery were to lose momentum.