Crude oil futures were lower during mid-morning trade in Asia Wednesday after a larger-than-expected build in weekly US crude inventory data, analysts said. At 9:50 am Singapore time (0150 GMT), May ICE Brent crude futures were down 48 cents/b (0.73%) from Tuesday’s settle at $65.38/b, while the NYMEX April light sweet crude contract was 45 cents/b (0.8%) lower at $56.11/b.  According to analyst reports quoting a weekly American Petroleum Institute report released late Tuesday, US crude inventories rose 7.29 million barrels in the week ended March 1.

Analysts surveyed Monday by S&P Global Platts had been expecting a more modest 1.9 million-barrel build. US gasoline inventories were down 391,000 barrels over the same period, while US distillate inventories were down 3.1 million barrels, according to the API report.  More definitive numbers from the US Energy Information Administration are due for release later Wednesday.

“US and global crude oil prices ticked lower as investors stayed on the sidelines awaiting the weekly US government data on US crude inventories due on Wednesday,” UOB analysts said in a note Wednesday.  Analysts also pointed to bearish influences on both demand and supply side fundamentals as pressuring prices lower.

Libya’s National Oil Company lifted a force majeure on operations at the Sharara field Monday, paving the way for production to restart after nearly three months of conflict-related shutdown.  “The oil market will be slightly oversupplied again unless production is cut further or unscheduled outages occur elsewhere,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note.  On the demand side, China’s target expansion of gross domestic product in 2019 was set at a range of 6-6.5% Tuesday, lower than last year’s target of around 6.5%.