LONDON, June 1 (Reuters): Oil steadied on Thursday as a potential pause in US interest rate hikes and the passing of a crucial vote on the US debt ceiling bill were offset by a report of rising inventories in the world's biggest oil consumer.
US Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday suggested interest rates could be kept on hold this month and the US House of Representatives passed a bill suspending the government's debt ceiling, improving the chance of averting a disastrous default.
Brent crude futures fell 10 cents, or 0.14 per cent, to $72.50 a barrel by 1339 GMT while US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) rose 7 cents, or 0.1 per cent, to $68.16. Both benchmarks fell on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Oil markets may have been oversold in the last two trading days," said CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng. "Sentiment rebounded amid the debt bill's passage in the House and (the) Fed's rate hike pause signal."
Mixed demand indications from China, the world's biggest oil importer, have nonetheless weighed on the market, as has industry data showing a rise in US crude inventories.
Market sources citing American Petroleum Institute (API) figures on Wednesday said that US crude inventories rose by about 5.2 million barrels last week. Government stocks data is due at 1430 GMT on Thursday.
"The current mood is one of pessimism," said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM. "Investors have been pragmatic and risk averse of late."
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