Oil prices increased today as investors looked to the US Federal Reserve meeting to get a clearer picture on the outlook of the US stimulus programme that has supported commodity prices.

Brent crude increased by 13 cents to $106.15 a barrel, while US crude increased by 16 cents to $98.60, reported Reuters.

Global investors are eagerly waiting for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s announcement at the end of the policy meeting on Wednesday, where he may suggest a timeline for rolling back monetary stimulus.

According to a Reuters survey, analysts predict that the Fed may start lowering its bond-buying programme in the second half of 2013.

On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute released data, which showed that commercial crude oil stocks in the US dropped about four million barrels last week, more than the 500,000 barrel drop that analysts had anticipated earlier in a different survey by Reuters.

At the beginning of the week, oil prices jumped up to an 11-week high, mainly driven by the concerns of supply disruption and on doubts that other Middle Eastern countries could be drawn into the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Investors are now speculating that fuel demand may rise in the second half of 2013, after global economic recovery slowed in the first half.

Image: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to announce a timeline on Wednesday for rolling back the monetary stimulus programme. Photo courtesy of United States Federal Reserve.