By Laila Kearney
(Reuters) – Oil prices were up in early Asian trade on Thursday as U.S. crude stocks rose less than expected, while a weaker dollar made oil cheaper for non-American buyers.
Brent crude futures had risen 12 cents to $86.24 per barrel by 0119 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 30 cents to $80.45.
Crude inventories rose by 533,000 barrels to 448.5 million barrels in the week ending Jan. 20, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said. That was substantially short of forecasts for a 1 million barrel rise.
Despite the smaller-than-expected crude build, crude stocks reached the highest level since June 2021, the EIA said.
Also helping to boost oil was the U.S. dollar, which weakened against the euro on Wednesday as investors largely paused any big bets ahead of next week’s central bank meetings, including those of the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.
A factor that kept oil from moving higher was concern about a slowing global economy hampering fuel demand.
Global economic growth is forecast to barely move above 2% this year, according to a Reuters poll of economists, who said the greater risk was a further downgrade to their view. That was at odds with widespread optimism in markets since the beginning of the year.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Bradley Perrett)