Oil prices recovered slightly on Wednesday for the first time in days, as crude stockpiles in the U.S. dropped and positive trade data from China prompted investors to buy into crude futures. Brent crude jumped up $.63 to trade at $31.49 a barrel, but still remained at a near 12-year low. West Texas intermediate crude increased $.69 to trade at $31.13 a barrel, inching up from Tuesday’s drop to below $30 a barrel.
Crude stocks in the U.S. saw a surprise decline last week, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday. Crude inventories dropped by 3.9 million barrels, falling to 480.071 million. Analysts were expecting an increase of 2.5 million barrels.
Meanwhile, China reported that its exports declined by just 1.4% in December. Analysts were expecting an 8% drop. The surprise trade data improved sentiment and pushed world markets up.
The call for an emergency OPEC meeting weakened on Wednesday, as the oil minister of Iran stated that he did not receive a request for a gathering. Nigeria’s oil minister stated on Tuesday that a “few” OPEC members asked for an emergency meeting to be held.
Iran briefly held a group of U.S. sailors after they entered Iranian waters. The sailors were released on Wednesday after being held overnight.