Oil prices rose slightly to near $82 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as an upward revision of U.S. economic growth and a report showing an unexpected jump in crude inventories provided mixed signals on demand.
Benchmark oil for January delivery was up 37 cents to $81.62 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 49 cents to settle at $81.25 on Tuesday.
The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose 5.2 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had forecast a drop of 1.9 million barrels. Inventories of gasoline and distillates fell, the API said.
The Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration reports its weekly supply data later Wednesday.
U.S. gasoline demand fell 0.9 percent last week, according to MasterCard. Demand is up just 0.4 percent so far this year from the same period last year, MasterCard said Tuesday.
Oil prices were supported by an upward revision of third quarter gross domestic product growth. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the economy expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, up from the 2 percent pace initially estimated.
“The better than expected GDP figures that can easily conjure up ideas of stronger than expected oil demand growth,” Ritterbusch and Associates said.
In other Nymex trading in December contracts, heating oil rose 1.2 cents to $2.26 a gallon and gasoline added 1 cent to $2.14 a gallon. Natural gas was down 1.2 cents to $4.25 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude rose 33 cents to $83.58 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.