The price of oil slipped to around $93 a barrel Wednesday as a report of rising U.S. crude supplies outweighed a forecast for higher demand this year from aluminum giant Alcoa.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for February delivery was down 9 cents to $93.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The previous day, the contract fell 4 cents to finish at $93.15 a barrel.
The American Petroleum Institute trade group said Tuesday that U.S. crude supplies grew by 2.4 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks increased by 7.9 million barrels.
Those figures were much higher than the expectations of analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos, who forecast a rise of 1.5 million barrels for crude oil and an increase of 2.6 million barrels in gasoline stocks.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration releases its crude inventories report -- the market benchmark -- later Wednesday.
Demand for aluminum has been hurt by the weak global economy, but Alcoa predicted a 7 percent increase in demand this year, slightly better than the 6 percent increase in 2012. The company's fourth-quarter earnings were in line with forecasts while revenue exceeded Wall Street expectations.
"The outlook for global commodities is likely to remain uncertain in the next twelve months with low growth hampering demand especially in Europe," Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said in an email commentary.
Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was down 1 cent to $111.93 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
-- Wholesale gasoline fell 1.84 cents to $2.776 a gallon.
-- Heating oil rose 0.55 cent to $3.064 a gallon.
-- Natural gas was down 4.8 cents to $3.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.