WASHINGTON (Alliance News) - Crude oil prices are lower Tuesday morning, ahead of the Federal Reserve's rate decision and official US inventory data.
The Federal Reserve, which concludes it two-day monetary policy meeting tomorrow, is widely expected to reduce its quantitative easing by USD10 billion, cutting the size of the bond buying program to USD25 billion per month.
Earlier this month, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Chairman Janet Yellen indicated that the Fed may raise interest rates sooner than expected if the recovery in the US labor market is sustained.
The US Energy Information Administration will release its weekly crude oil inventory data on Wednesday. Before that, the American Petroleum Institute's weekly oil report will be out this evening.
Meanwhile, traders continue to watch the developments in Ukraine and the Middle East. According to reports, Israel carried out 76 strikes since Monday, with Gaza's power plant being one of the targets.
In eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels are in for a setback with tougher sanctions on Russia looming large.
Crude oil futures for September are down USD0.21 or 0.21% at USD101.49 a barrel.
On Monday, crude oil futures ended down USD0.42 or 0.4% at USD101.67 a barrel, despite lingering concerns about the ongoing unrest in Ukraine and the Middle East.
Weak demand for crude oil in Europe and Asia, coupled with excess supply in the US contributed to oil's decline.
Meanwhile, natural gas is up USD0.005 or 0.13% at USD3.771 per million btu.
Standard & Poor's is due to release the results of its S&P/Case-Shiller house price survey at 9 am ET. Economists expect a 0.4% month-over-month increase in the house price index following the 0.2% increase in the previous month. Annually, prices are estimated to increase an unadjusted 9.9%.
At 10 am ET, the Conference Board is scheduled to release the results of US consumer confidence survey for July at 10 am ET. The consensus estimate calls for an increase in the consumer confidence index to 85.5 from 85.2 in June.