A soft U.S. oil inventory report sent crude prices sliding on Wednesday though better-than-expected growth rates in China as well as a solid U.S. industrial production report supported the commodity.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in May traded at $103.66 a barrel during U.S. trading, down 0.09%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $103.15 a barrel and a high of $104.98 a barrel.
The May contract settled down 0.29% at $103.75 a barrel on Tuesday.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $102.95 a barrel, Tuesday's low, and resistance at $104.98 a barrel, the earlier high.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 10.01 million barrels in the week ended April 11, far surpassing expectations for a build of 2.25 million barrels, which sent prices falling on concerns the economy is awash in crude.
Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 394.1 million barrels as of last week.
The EIA said total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels compared to forecasts for a decline of 1.66 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles decreased by 1.27 million barrels.
A report from the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday showed U.S. oil inventories rose by 7.6 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks fell by 500,000 barrels and distillate stocks dropped by 1.1 million barrels.
Cushioning losses, however, were Chinese and U.S. data.
China’s gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 7.4% in the first three months of 2014, slowing from 7.7% in the fourth quarter, but beating expectations for a 7.3% reading.
Meanwhile in the U.S., industrial production rose 0.7% in March from February, beating expectations for a 0.5% reading.
The U.S. and China are the world's largest consumers of oil, and the data fueled hopes for more demand for fuel and energy going forward, which pushed the commodity in and out of positive territory.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for May delivery were up 0.22%, trading at US$109.60 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$5.94 a barrel.