Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Crude oil future prices eased for a third day with declines early in the morning as traders awaited inventory data from the Energy Information Administration.
As of 8:40 a.m. EST, West Texas Intermediate prices were 0.3 percent lower at $53.48 per barrel, compared with 0.3 percent lower at $61.80 per barrel for Brent crude futures.
"The market will struggle to compare disappointing API Inventory numbers against reports of a decrease in Venezuelan output, OPEC cuts, and weak economic data. If EIA confirms (disappointing inventory), I expect a retest of the $51 level," said Amir Hekmati, oil futures trader at Lucid Energy.
The Energy Information Administration will publish a report of U.S. oil inventories later Wednesday.
Inventory levels would be key in determining the future trend.
"If next week also shows a build we could be back in the 40's. Inventory reports need to confirm any bullish reports if this bounce in oil is to continue," Hekmati added.
Increasing oil production, and rising inventories, have influenced losses in oil future prices in recent weeks. Concern about potentially slowing demand for crude oil has contributed to price reductions.
Expectations of reduced supplies following a December accord by OPEC, and non-OPEC nations like Russia, to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day is expected to contribute to support the market. Also supporting the market is concern that a Venezuelan crisis -- and sanctions announced recently -- could cause a collapse of the 1.15 million crude oil per day production of Venezuela.
WTI futures have declined from a peak for this year of $55.26 per barrel on Friday. They started the year at levels just over $45 per barrel.
Prices have declined since Oct. 3 when Brent traded at over $86 per barrel and WTI at over $76 per barrel.