Oil barrels
US inventories rose for another week but oil benchmarks remained on positive turf iStock

Oil futures headed higher on Wednesday (1 February) despite data pointing to a higher than expected build-up of crude oil inventories stateside.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said the country's crude inventories climbed by 6.5 million barrels for the week ending 27 January, taking stockpiles up to 494.8 million barrels. However, the EIA also noted that American refinery crude runs declined by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to average around 15.9m bpd with refineries operating at 88.2% capacity; a 0.1% decrease from the week before.

At 5:44pm GMT, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) front month futures contract was up by 0.53% or 28 cents to $53.09 per barrel, while Brent was 0.72% or 40¢ higher at $55.28 per barrel.

Analysts at Vienna-based JBC Energy said: "With data now coming out for the first month affected by the Opec and non-Opec output cuts, it appears fairly safe to say that compliance with the pledged reduction has been relatively high.

"The picture appears to be more uncertain when looking at the participation of the deal's non-Opec partners. Monthly production figures for many of these countries will not be confirmed for a couple of months yet."

Away from the oil market, gold and silver were in retreat as the dollar strengthened ahead of the US Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates. At 5:59pm GMT, the Comex gold futures contract for April delivery was 0.45% or $5.40 lower at $1,206.90 an ounce, while spot gold was down 0.51% or $6.16 at $1,204.56 an ounce, just above the psychologically-important $1,200-level.

Elsewhere, Comex silver was 0.19% or 3¢ lower at $17.51 an ounce. Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at FOREX.com, said silver has broken out of its established bearish channel to move above key resistance in the $17.15 to $17.25 range.

"Silver's technical breakthrough comes ahead of gold, which clearly underscores its outperformance, but it also suggests that the yellow metal may follow suit in breaking its own key resistance level at $1,200 soon.

"Until and unless it moves back below this $17.15 to $17.25 range, one can only assume that the path of least resistance for silver is now to the upside. Consequently, we are expecting to see higher prices going forward until such a time silver creates a distinct reversal pattern. On the way up, some of the potential bullish targets are at $17.85, the 200-day moving average; $18.00/$18.15, previous support, followed by $19.00 – the last significant swing high."