Oil prices were steady above $91 a barrel Thursday in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude supplies unexpectedly rose last week, which suggests a recovery in demand may have slowed.
Benchmark oil for February delivery rose 7 cents to $91.19 a barrel midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 37 cents to settle at $91.12 on Wednesday, according to BusinessWeek.
Crude prices will likely respond more to bullish surprises rather than unexpected bearish economic data, Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, said in a note: "While we certainly leave open the possibility of some bearish surprises, particularly within the gasoline stocks category, we don't expect anything within the numbers, especially tomorrow's EIA guidance, to sway us from a near-term bullish view."
Traders will focus more on weekly jobless claims, pending home sales and Chicago manfucturing data, he added. "We are still leaving open the possibility of a push to $92 for nearby WTI (West Texas Intermediate crude contracts) by week's end," Wall Street Journal reports.