Oil prices slipped on profit-taking in Asian trade Wednesday following a recent rally, while the return of Libyan crude boosted supplies and dented demand.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February delivery, fell seven cents to $92.52 a barrel in mid-morning trade, while Brent North Sea crude for February dropped 23 cents to $106.16
WTI was boosted in US trade Tuesday by data showing that December retail sales rose 0.2 percent in December, beating expectations that there would be no change.
Retail sales are part of the consumer spending that is the prime driver of the world’s biggest economy.
Analysts said investors were waiting for Wednesday’s weekly report on US oil inventories, a closely watched barometer of US demand.
Analysts forecast a decline of 800,000 barrels of crude, according to a survey by the Wall Street Journal, which would indicate strong demand.
European benchmark Brent oil remains under pressure from the partial restoration of Libyan oil production, which analysts say is back to about 650,000 barrels a day after falling as low as 250,000 owing to political protests.
A weekend agreement between Iran and major powers on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions also hit prices.
An easing of sanctions as a result of the accord could enable higher crude output from Iran, a member of the OPEC oil cartel.
“Crude oil prices had trimmed significantly recently due to easing of geopolitical tensions in Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),” Phillip Futures said in a market commentary.