Higher than expected US crude oil inventories had little impact on oil prices on Wednesday as traders took their lead instead from dollar weakness to maintain bullish positions in crude.
The bullishness seen in the oil markets in recent weeks ensured oil prices made their biggest January gains in five years, and last week, the price of global crude benchmark rose above $70 a barrel for the first time in three years - hitting a high of $71.28.
Data flow in the past few sessions, however, has turned markedly negative, with news of rising rig counts and growth in US inventories.
EIA stockpile data
The latest inventory data was published on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration and showed US stockpiles rose by 6.8 million barrels from the previous week.
The energy watchdog said that at 418.4 million barrels, US inventories were in the middle of their typical range for this time of year.
Gasoline inventories decreased by 2 million barrels, but stocks remained near the top of their average range for the time of year.
The data more than ratified the findings of the American Petroleum Institute, which on Tuesday said it had seen US crude inventories rise by 3.23 million barrels in the same week.
However, there was no negative reaction on commodity exchanges and both Brent crude and Nymex WTI prices rose following the EIA data.
Warren Patterson, commodity strategist at ING, suggested that the rise in inventories had less to do with rising imports and more to do with slower refinery production.
"The stock build was largely driven by weaker refinery throughput, with utilisation rates falling from 90.9% to 88.1% over the last week. This should be no surprise as we move towards maintenance season."
Oil prices instead, appeared to be rising in response to the falling dollar. Brent crude gained 0.29% to $68.72 a barrel, while Nymex WTI added 0.09% to $64.56.