(Reuters) – Oil prices were steady in early Asian trade on Wednesday as industrial data showed a drop in U.S. inventories after the market fell in the previous session on fears that a further sharp increase in U.S. interest rates could hurt demand.
April crude futures were up 8 cents at 83.37 a barrel by 0120 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude was down four cents at $77.54 a barrel.
In support of the market on Wednesday, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that US crude inventories fell by about 3.8 million barrels in the week ended March 3, market sources said.
The drop contrasted with the expectations of nine analysts polled by Reuters for a 400,000-barrel increase in crude stocks.
Gasoline stocks rose by about 1.8 million barrels, while distillate stocks rose by about 1.9 million barrels, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified.
Both Brent and the West Texas Intermediate fell more than 3 percent on Tuesday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank may raise interest rates more than expected in response to strong recent data.
“This has raised concerns about weak demand in the US,” ANZ Research analysts said in a note to clients.
Powell’s comments pushed the dollar, which usually goes against oil, to a three-month high against a basket of currencies.
(Prepared by Ali Khafaji for Arabic Bulletin)
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