Oil prices held above $43 a barrel in Asia today after US commercial crude supplies rose at a slower pace while jitters over the shooting down by Turkey of a Russian warplane lingered.
Data from the US Department of Energy released yesterday showed the country's commercial crude supplies rose by 1.0 million barrels for the week ending November 20.
The increase for a ninth straight week kept supplies more than 100 million barrels above the five-year seasonal average and further confirmed the supply glut that has depressed prices for over a year.
However, analysts noted that the increase was not as much as in previous rises and could be positive for prices in the longer term. The inventories data was followed by a report from oil field services firm Baker Hughes showing US oil drilling rigs in operation fell by nine to 555, indicating an ease in activities.
"US crude oil inventories are not increasing as much as before, so this is giving the market some bullish sentiment," said Daniel Ang, an investment analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore.
At around 0115 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in January was up eight cents at $43.12 and Brent crude for January was trading seven cents higher at $46.24. Ang said a report that durable goods orders in the United States, a barometer of the health of the world's biggest economy, came in better than expected was also helping to perk up sentiment.
Prices rose after Turkey downed a Russian warplane on the Syrian border on Tuesday, due to fears that any escalation of the conflict would affect crude supplies.
"There are still tensions going on and they are giving a bullish push to prices," Ang said. "Tensions are still playing a part in the whole oil landscape."
Russia yesterday accused Turkey of a "planned provocation" and a rescued pilot of the targeted jet said that no warning had been given.