Oil prices rose on Wednesday as the market awaited the latest weekly update on energy inventories in the United States — the world’s biggest consumer.

New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for March delivery, gained 44 cents to 42.02 dollars a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for March climbed 67 cents to 44.40 dollars on London’s InterContinental Exchange.

All eyes were on Wednesday’s publication of US energy stockpiles data from the Energy Information Administration.

“The weekly report from the EIA could be crucial in determining the (oil) price trend for the rest of the week,” said VTB analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.

“Expectations (are) for yet another increase in US crude stockpiles amid softer demand. However, distillate inventories (which include heating fuel) were seen declining due to a cold snap in the US earlier this month,” Kryuchenkov said.

New York oil prices plunged by more than four dollars Tuesday on expectations of a rise in US crude inventories, traders said.

The price drop also coincided with an unexpected fall in US consumer confidence, which dipped to an all-time low in January.

Oil prices have plunged since striking record peaks above 147 dollars in July as a deteriorating global economy dents demand for energy.

(AFP & Zawya)