Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade Thursday, May 8, as investors digested an unexpected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles and fresh Chinese trade data, analysts said, according to AFP.
The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate for June delivery, was up two cents to $100.79 in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for June eased 15 cents to $107.98 per barrel.
Oil prices were well-supported in the market "due to an unexpected drop in U.S. inventories", said Sanjeev Gupta, the head of the Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice at consultancy firm EY.
The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday said crude reserves sank by 1.8 million barrels in the week to May 2, confounding market expectations for a gain of 1.2 million barrels.
The fall in U.S. crude reserves indicates resurgent demand in the world's top crude consumer ahead of the busy summer holiday driving season.
Investors meanwhile were also digesting Chinese official data released Thursday that showed the country's exports and imports rose marginally in April, rebounding from sharp declines the month before.
The figures showed an overall trade surplus of $18.45 billion, the second straight trade surplus amid complaints by analysts over the continued impact of fake reporting of exports seen in early 2013.
"China's trade data show signs of recovery but continue to understate the true health of the export sector," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist for Capital Economics.
Crude investors closely monitor economic data from China for an indication of demand in the world's top crude consumer.