Oil prices rose less than expected after the US Energy Information Administration said last week that crude oil inventories had risen by 3.2 million barrels. Inventories for gasoline and distillates declined as total product demand increased 5.4 percent over the previous four weeks.
"Despite the rise in crude oil inventories, crude oil prices are aided by the decline in refined product inventories," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
Commodity futures were traded choppy on Wednesday, with Brent rising earlier in the session by $ 1 a barrel before retiring. Investors are weighing market sentiment ahead of the new US sanctions on Iran starting on 4 November.
"There is a belief that there is enough oil on the market to enforce Iranian sanctions, and technically the market is weak," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
New US sanctions on Iran begin on November 4, and Washington has made it clear to Tehran customers that they do not expect to buy Iranian crude anymore.
Imports of Iranian crude by major buyers in Asia reached a 32-month low in September as China, South Korea and Japan significantly reduced their purchases before sanctions, government and shipping data showed.
"The bullish argument for crude oil remains at the heart of Iran's sanctions, which are due to start in November, and continued production decline in Venezuela," said William O & # 39; Loughlin, investment analyst, Rivkin Securities.