Crude oil futures are modestly firmer in electronic trading, a mild rebound from overnight weakness seen after a U.S. report showed an inventory increase.
At last check, February crude futures are up 38 cents or 0.4% at $99.74 a barrel. United States Oil Fund ( USO ) is up 0.2% at 38.42.
In the Wednesday after-hours session, API data showed that crude oil supplies climbed by 9.6 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 23. Gasoline inventories also rose by 1.9 million barrels, while distillate inventories added 554,000 barrels, the trade group said. Analysts polled by Platts expected data to show that supplies fell by 2.3 million barrels. They also forecast a fall of 500,000 barrels in gasoline supplies and a decline of 1.2 million barrels in distillate inventories.
The API figures come ahead of Thursday's more closely watched Energy Information Administration report.
The February crude contract had closed at $99.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange during Wednesday's regular session.
Meanwhile, in metals markets, gold futures for February delivery are down $34 or 2.2% at $1,530 an ounce. The dollar gained against the euro and the yen overnight but has since pulled back to trade little changed. March silver futures are down 3%.
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