March 20 (UPI) -- Crude oil futures were a little lower early Wednesday, but still near year-to-date highs in what appears to be a pause, as investors await official oil inventory data later in the day, which may confirm draw reports or other news for direction, analysts said.
West Texas Intermediate prices fell 0.9 percent to $58.75 per barrel as of 7:50 a.m. EST, while Brent crude fell 0.3 percent to $67.23 per barrel as of the same time.
WTI reached its highest level so far this year on Monday when it closed at $59.38 per barrel. As for Brent, it closed Monday at $67.54, just under its highest closing so far this year of $67.55 per barrel on Mar. 13.
"Prices are pausing for now, shy of psychological levels: $60 for WTI, $70 for Brent," Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, told UPI.
"OPEC's meeting over the weekend affirmed that the cartel's will to cut supply is more than a temporary measure -- which is helping to backstop prices -- while economic clouds continue to gather to stoke demand fears," Smith added.
"All eyes are on today's EIA report, to see if it follows last evening's API report in showing a draw to crude and products," he said.
The Energy Information Administration will publish its latest crude oil inventory data later Wednesday.
"The bulls and the bears are fighting it out hard to control the market," Sukrit Vijayakar, analyst at Trifecta Consultants, separately told UPI.
"The bulls are hanging on grimly to the hope that the OPEC+ cut will impact supplies, at least in the second half of 2019, if not earlier," he said.
"The bears are fighting on the basis that all economic data is negative and if nothing happens in the U.S. China dispute, the situation will deteriorate rapidly," Vijayakar added.
One potential announcement that could come and lead prices higher would be progress in trade talks between the United States and China, the world's two biggest economies.
"A quick resolution of the United States-China trade dispute will stimulate the economy along with other possible measures like rate cuts," he added.
Crude oil prices saw their recent highest levels in October and their minimums in late December.
On Oct. 3, WTI futures traded above $76 per barrel with Brent trading above $86 per barrel. At the end of December, Brent fell to under $51 per barrel while WTI fell to under $43 per barrel.