Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices staged a rally in early Wednesday trading as strong U.S. economic figures balanced against a build in national oil and gas inventories.
The American Petroleum Institute reported after the close of trading Tuesday that its data show U.S. crude oil inventories gained 38,000 barrels last week and gasoline inventories increased by 21,000 barrels.
A survey of analysts earlier this week from S&P Global Platts revealed uncertainty for U.S. crude oil inventories, a loose gauge of broad-based demand. The commodity pricing group reported that some of its respondents were anticipating a drain of 3 million barrels or more, while others were expecting a bit of an increase.
"While still ahead of the market expectations, I guess market participants probably prefer to wait for the official data from the EIA later today," Giovanni Staunovo, a commodity analyst and chief investment officer at Swiss bank UBS, said in response to questions emailed from UPI.
Staunovo added it didn't make sense to make a bet in lower oil prices given the expectation that hundreds of thousands of barrels will be sidelined from a market with little room for shocks when U.S. sanctions hit Iran in November.
The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was up 0.8 percent as of 9:15 a.m. EDT to $76.90 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, was up 0.96 percent to $69.19 per barrel.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration releases its data on domestic inventories at 10:30 a.m. A drain would push the price of oil higher, though EIA data so far in August has surprised the markets with sizeable gains to cause big drops in the price of oil on Wednesdays so far this month.
Gains in the price of oil were supported by strong second quarter figures for the U.S. economy. The U.S. Commerce Department reported second quarter gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 4.2 percent, slightly above the previous estimate of 4.1 percent.
On a quarterly rate, real GDP increased 1.8 percent in the second quarter, compared with 3.9 percent in the first quarter.
Markets may be muted for the rest of the week ahead of the long U.S. Labor Day holiday.