March 13 (UPI) -- Oil prices rose early Wednesday with West Texas Intermediate reaching its highest point this year as analysts aired concern about potential disruptions in Venezuela, and ahead of a U.S. oil inventory data release.
West Texas Intermediate prices as of 8:26 a.m. EST traded 1.1 percent higher at $57.50 per barrel, while Brent crude traded 0.6 percent higher to $67.08 per barrel.
"The climb is more likely to gain traction than to reverse," FXDailyReport analyst Katrina Ang wrote in a report.
Coming inventory data from the Energy Information Administration will determine "direction for the week," she added. The EIA will release the data later Wednesday.
"A large build could weigh on prices while a considerable reduction could further ease oversupply concerns," Ang said.
"U.S. shale oil output is on the rise and could keep a lid on prices in the longer run. However, global supply is limited thanks to the OPEC output cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, she added in her report.
Venezuela, which produces 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, not only faces U.S. sanctions aimed at preventing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from accessing the funds.
OPEC plus, which includes OPEC countries and Russia, agreed on Dec. 7 to reduce 1.2 million barrels of crude oil supply starting in January. OPEC will on Thursday publish a monthly production report for members for February. Last month's report showed members honored the deal.
"Risk sentiment is another factor to watch in trading commodities as escalating trade tensions bring uncertainties for businesses and weigh on their demand," Ang added.
One factor that markets are watching closely is the possibility that crude oil demand worldwide may slow or contract as a result of a possible economic slowdown. This would affect prices in a context where the world's new biggest crude oil producer, starting last year, plans to increase output.
There has been concern that an extended trade war between the United States and China could lead to a slowdown. China is the world's biggest crude oil importer.
"Further growth is expected to continue to the area below the level of 59.30 dollars per barrel," according to a projection for Wednesday published Tuesday by bymarkets.com.