Oil prices mixed; WTI flat ahead of US supply data

Oil prices treaded water in New York Tuesday as investors clung to the sidelines a day ahead of the US government's key weekly report on the nation's petroleum supplies.

New York's main West Texas Intermediate contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, edged down four cents from Monday to settle at $93.15 a barrel.

In London trade, Brent North Sea crude for February climbed 54 cents to settle at $111.94 a barrel.

Bart Melek, an analyst at TD Securities, said the market was holding steady in the absence of significant news.

Most of all, Melek said, traders were waiting for Wednesday's Department of Energy oil inventories report after crude oil supplies dropped by a huge 11 million barrels in the prior week, the biggest decline in a decade.

According to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, the DoE will report Wednesday an increase of 1.6 million barrels of crude oil in the week ending January 4 in the US, the world's biggest oil consumer.

"Supply of crude oil is abundant and that is keeping a lid on prices," said Fawad Razaqzada of Global Futures and Forex.

IG Markets analyst Jason Hughes said that traders were looking for guidance ahead of the corporate earnings season, especially for US companies.

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