Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices were mixed Friday morning with gains in West Texas Intermediate futures and a slight decline in Brent futures, as traders awaited data from the Energy Information Administration on United States inventories for future direction.
As of 8:07 a.m. EST West Texas Intermediate crude oil front-month future prices rose 0.6 percent to $44.88 per barrel while Brent front-month futures were about 0.2 percent lower at $52.65.
"Last night's API report - which showed big builds for both crude and gasoline - is largely being ignored, with a more bullish report expected from the Energy Information Administration today," Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, told UPI.
The EIA will publish official weekly inventory levels later in the day. The official data, freely available, is often different than what is put published by the American Petroleum Institute, normally released a day before and only available to subscribers.
Rising equities may also help oil prices on Friday, Smith added.
The London Stock Exchange FTSE index reached 6,719.21 points as of 1:00 p.m. local time (8:00 a.m. EST) on Friday, up from levels just above 6,630 points near the start of the trading day. The U.S. Dow Jones Stock Index on Thursday closed at 23,138.82 points as it recovered part of its Dec. 24 losses, when the index fell to 21,792.20 points.
However, concerns about excess supplies of crude oil may continue to add a bearish tone.
"Concerns over surging U.S. oil supply and softening global growth continues to rattle oil markets. In a week with holiday thinned trade, oil prices have seen somewhat of a turbulent week," DailyFX analyst Justin McQueen told UPI.
In this context, there is even a possibility of crude oil declining with Brent testing the $50 per barrel level, he said.
Current price levels compare with $45.59 per barrel of WTI last Friday, ahead of a volatile week shortened by a Christmas holiday. During the week, oil price plunges just ahead of the holiday were followed by a recovery on the day after Christmas.
Trading in holiday shortened sessions normally is lighter in volume, and this leads to greater volatility.