Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, fell 29 cents to $55.19 per barrel by 2:24 p.m. ET (1824 GMT), not far off a five-month high of $55.99.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures ended Tuesday’s session down 43 cents at $49.48 per barrel. The contract settled at a seven-week high at $49.91 on Monday.
“It feels kind of like positioning ahead of tonight’s report but there’s not a lot of action behind the move,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Industry group the American Petroleum Institute releases its U.S. weekly oil stock data at 4:30 p.m. ET, a day ahead of data from the U.S. Energy Department.
Analysts forecast crude stocks rose 2.9 million barrels last week, as fuel inventories drew down. That would continue a trend established in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, as imports resumed while refineries were still restarting.
Demand for crude is also expected to rebound in coming weeks in the United States, where about one-quarter of U.S. refining capacity was shut due to Harvey, which hit the Gulf Coast in late August.
The current threat is Hurricane Maria, now making its way through the Caribbean, but it is not expected to threaten the U.S. Gulf, instead turning north in the Atlantic Ocean. Still, cargoes have been shifted around as the storm could dampen oil demand and disrupt maritime trading.