Oil prices remained steady above $83 today, despite credit rating downgrades for southern European countries encouraged by signs that US demand will improve this summer.

For June delivery, US crude dropped 14¢ to $83.08 a barrel by 2.32am ET, while London Brent crude was down by 16¢ to $86, reports Reuters.

The Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero and gave an upbeat assessment of the US economy.

Oil also got support from expectations that petrol use in the USA will accelerate during the driving season between late May and early September.

The Energy Information Administration report showed that petrol demand in the US jumped 3.1% in the past four weeks from a year earlier.

Data from the EIA showed total US crude stockpiles gained by 1.9 million barrels in the week ending 23 April, while petrol stocks fell by 1.2 million barrels and distillates rose by 2.9 million barrels.