Oil prices are little changed ahead of data expected to show rising crude inventories in the United States and as the dollar has strengthened from last week’s three-year lows.

Brent crude futures settled 17 cents, or 0.3 per cent, higher at $US65.42 a barrel, after trading between $US64.40 and $US65.53.

West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) futures fell 11 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to end at $US61.68 a barrel, after trading between $US61.86 and $US60.92.

US crude inventories were forecast to have risen for the fourth consecutive week, increasing 1.8 million barrels last week, an extended Reuters poll showed.

Data on US inventories from the American Petroleum Institute will be released at 4.30 pm Wednesday EST (0830 Thursday AEDT) and government figures are due on Thursday at 11 am. Both reports were delayed a day due to a US holiday on Monday.

Rising US shale output should lead to a modest inventory build, said Stewart Glickman, an energy analyst at CFRA Research in New York

‘US shale continues to rise to the occasion,’ he said.

Higher oil prices and rising output should feed increased investment in drilling and production, in turn boosting shale output more, he said.

US crude oil production surpassed 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in November for the first time since 1970. Rising US shale output has hindered efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, led by Russia, to reduce bloated global inventories and prop up oil prices by cutting output.

The US dollar index hit a one-week high after the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s January policy meeting.

A stronger dollar makes oil and other dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Oil gained some support from a rise on Wall Street markets.

‘Oil prices and the S&P have been highly correlated, of late, with economic strength translating into improved company performance and higher energy demand,’ said John Kilduff, partner at investment manager Again Capital in New York.

Futures prices have been dented by physical crude markets, which are showing signs of seasonal weakness as refineries prepare to shutdown for maintenance between peak summer and winter fuel demand periods.