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Crude oil futures little changed ahead of U.S. supply data

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Shutterstock photo - Crude oil futures were little changed during European morning hours on Wednesday, as traders looked ahead to closely-watched weekly supply data on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products from the U.S. Energy Information Administration later in the day.

Oil traders largely shrugged off news that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had passed away Tuesday. Venezuela, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is Latin America's largest oil producer.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in April traded at USD90.80 a barrel during European morning trade, neatly flat on the day.

New York-traded oil prices held in between a tight trading range of USD90.58 a barrel, the daily low and a session high of USD91.17 a barrel.

Oil traders looked ahead to data from the U.S. government on oil and fuel supplies later in the day to gauge the strength of demand from the world's largest oil consumer.

The report was expected to show that U.S. crude oil stockpiles increased by 0.6 million barrels last week, while gasoline inventories were forecast to fall by 0.7 million barrels.

After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said that U.S. crude inventories rose by 5.6 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks declined 0.9 million barrels.

Demand for commodities was supported by prospects for ongoing monetary easing by the Federal Reserve as well as signs that the economic recovery in the U.S. is gaining momentum.

Data on Tuesday showed that the U.S. service sector expanded at its fastest rate in a year in February. Friday's data on U.S. nonfarm payrolls will also be closely watched as investors attempt to gauge the strength of the economic recovery.

The U.S. is the world's biggest oil-consuming country, responsible for almost 22% of global oil demand.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for April delivery dipped 0.1% to trade at USD111.50 a barrel, with spread between the Brent and crude contracts standing at USD20.70 a barrel.

Brent prices remained supported as a North Sea pipeline system remained shut for a fourth day after a platform leak. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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