March 5 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices were a little higher early Tuesday just ahead of the start of the regular session as if consolidating Monday's gains, an analyst said.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil future prices were 0.3 percent higher at $56.77 per barrel as of 8:51 a.m. EST, while Brent prices were 0.1 percent higher at $65.74 per barrel as of the same time.
"Oil is consolidating after yesterday's rally, buoyed by OPEC cuts and with one eye on tomorrow's inventory report," Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, told UPI.
WTI prices rose on Monday to close at $56.59 per barrel, up from $55.80 per barrel on Friday.
On Wednesday morning, the Energy Information Administration will release information in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report.
"Although we continue to go through the throes of refinery maintenance season, lower imports and robust crude exports are keeping inventories in check," ClipperData's Smith said.
Separately, Sukrit Vijayakar, analyst at Trifecta Consultants, told UPI he saw the market forces as "still fairly balanced between the bulls and the bears with the bulls having a slight advantage for now."
WTI's highest price so far this year was $57.26 per barrel on Feb. 22. This price compares with a highest for 2018 of over $76 per barrel on Oct. 3.
The market has been weighing the supply side the impacts of the agreed 1.2 million barrel per day cuts by the OPEC-plus in December, as well as possible disruptions of Venezuelan crude after U.S. sanctions announced last month.
The market took a turn south last year after the United States announced waivers to allow nations to continue buying Iranian crude oil after nuclear-related sanctions announced in May went into effect on Nov. 5.
Concern about the impact of the Iranian sanctions contributed largely to increases in crude oil prices between the announcement and early October. The waivers were unexpectedly announced on Nov. 5, the same day the sanctions were supposed to go into effect, shifting disruption concern and creating views that the market could be oversupplied.
OPEC on a Dec. 7 at a meeting in Vienna opted to cut production to support prices after plunges in crude oil prices during November, in a context at the time of fast-rising United State crude oil production.