Oil prices steadied today as concerns that the US Federal Reserve might retract from its stimulus programme balanced the optimism rising from a surprise fall in oil stockpiles in the world’s top consumer.

Brent crude jumped by ten cents to $103.14 a barrel, while US oil increased by ten cents to $93.84, reported Reuters.

Investors are expected to anxiously observe the key US jobs report due on Friday to get a clearer picture of the health of the world’s largest economy and how it will influence the Federal Reserve’s stimulus decision.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released data, which showed that US crude inventories contracted as imports dropped, while gasoline stocks along the East Coast decreased.

The EIA data revealed that stockpiles of crude dropped by nearly 6.3 million barrels last week, led by a 2.5 drawdown on the Gulf Coast for the week to 31 May, while a Reuters poll had predicted a 400,000 barrel decline.

On Wednesday, the US Government said Iran’s plans to commence a reactor in 2014 that can produce nuclear bomb material, is a matter of serious concern.

The US has decided to renew six-month waivers on sanctions imposed on China, India and seven others, after the countries agreed to reduce oil imports from Iran.

Image: EIA’s report that stockpiles of crude dropped by 6.3 million barrels last week also boosted oil prices. Photo courtesy of US Department of Energy.