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Oil Futures Wipe Off Early Losses, Settle Modestly Higher

Crude oil prices rebounded from early weakness and ended modestly higher on Wednesday, despite data showing an increase in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to February 1.

Data from Energy Information Administration released its official crude inventory data this morning. The data showed crude stockpiles in the U.S. increased by 1.26 million barrels last week. The increase, however, was less than what was forecast. Crude inventories had risen by 920,000 barrels in the previous week.

Gasoline stocks were up by 510,000 barrels in the week. Again, the increase was much less than what the market had expected. Meanwhile, distillate stockpiles dropped by a larger than expected 2.3 million barrels.

Earlier, a report released by the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday said U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.5 million barrels last week.

West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended up $0.35, or 0.7%, at $54.01 a barrel, rallying from a low of $52.88.

On Tuesday, crude oil futures ended down $0.90, or 1.7%, at $53.66 a barrel.

Concerns about a possible drop in energy demand due to global economic slowdown and the ongoing U.S.-China trade disputes continue to weigh on the commodity, although prices have been moving up at times amid expectations the OPEC-led production cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's state-run oil company will tighten global crude supply.

A Bloomberg report that said Russia was taking its time in complying with the exports cuts it had committed to in early December 2018, limited oil's rise.

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