NEW YORK: Oil prices edged lower after US crude stocks rose modestly, one day after an industry report suggested stocks had tightened.

Brent crude futures were at $84.41 a barrel at 10:49 a.m. EST, down 37 cents. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell by 79 cents, or 0.9%, to $83.36.

US crude inventories rose by 1 million barrels in the most recent week, short of estimates for a 2.1 million build in crude stocks, but still countering Tuesday's API data that showed a surprising drop in stocks.

US crude stocks edge up, fuel inventories down: EIA

The market has been strong in recent days, buoyed by rising economic data and OPEC's decision to maintain its slow pace of increased supply in the market.

"After the strong rally over the last few days, oil prices are in a wait and see mode," said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

Further underpinning the view the market remains tight, trading giant Vitol Group's CEO, Russell Hardy, said on Tuesday that oil demand had returned to pre-pandemic levels and demand in the first quarter of 2022 could exceed 2019 levels.

"The possibility of a spike to $100 per barrel is clearly there," Hardy told the Reuters Commodities Summit.

Energy trader Gunvor Group expects oil prices to be around current levels this time next year, its chief executive Torbjorn Tornqvist told the Reuters Commodities Summit on Wednesday.

Market gains on Tuesday were driven by a short-term outlook from the EIA, which projected gasoline prices would fall over the next few months.

That was a key factor US President Joe Biden has been watching to determine whether to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve amid concern over recent soaring gasoline prices.

Biden, on Wednesday, said he has asked the National Economic Council to work to reduce energy costs and the Federal Trade Commission to push back on market manipulation in the energy sector in a larger push to reverse inflation.

Vitol's Hardy said that a potential SPR release is likely to have only a short-term impact on the oil market.

"The EIA report ... does curb concerns that the US will release oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)," Commonwealth Bank analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.


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