New York - Oil prices found little momentum on Wednesday, even amid more signs of an improving US economy.
Benchmark oil for April delivery rose 13 cents to finish at $92.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was down from a high of $93.37, reached after another positive report on housing and government data showing US oil supplies rose less than expected last week.
The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in January from December to the highest level in almost three years. The National Association of Realtors' index for pending home sales rose 4.5% to the highest point since April 2010. The report boosted to US stock markets, and the major indexes were up about 1% in afternoon trading.
Crude inventories increased by 1.1 million barrels, to 377.5 million barrels, according to the weekly report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. That was less than half the increase expected by analysts.
Still, supplies are 9.5% above year-ago levels, which likely kept traders' enthusiasm to buy in check.
Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by US refineries, fell 84 cents to end at $111.87 on the ICE Futures exchange In London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline was down 9 cents to finish at $3.11 a gallon.
- Heating oil fell 4 cents to end at $2.99 a gallon.
- Natural gas fell 2 cents to finish at $3.43 per 1 000 cubic feet.
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