TOKYO – Oil prices inched up Wednesday ahead of the release later in the day of information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined fuels that will be a key indicator of expected demand.
Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery added 12 cents to close at $103.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, added 5 cents to $108.99 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Investors will be closely watching the information set to be released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined fuels.
Data for the week ending July 4 is expected to show declines of 3 million barrels in crude oil stocks and of 1 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Oil has been falling steadily, partly because worries about the oil supply from Iraq have subsided. Oil hit a 10-month closing high of $107.26 on June 20.
Gauging demand in coming months at the world's two major economies, the U.S. and China, will be key for energy prices.
In other energy futures trading:
— Wholesale gasoline inched down 1 cent to close at $2.966 a gallon.
— Natural gas was little changed at $4.207 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil was also virtually unchanged at $2.878 a gallon.