By Laila Kearney
(Reuters) - Oil steadied in early Asian trade on Thursday as a surprise draw in U.S. crude oil stockpiles that supported prices was offset by a smaller-than-expected cut to Russian supplies and stronger dollar.
Brent crude futures were unchanged at $78.28 a barrel at 0020 GMT. West Texas Intermediate U.S. crude fell 6 cents, or 0.1%, to $72.91 a barrel.
Helping to support prices, U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell unexpectedly last week as refineries ramped up production after maintenance season and imports fell to a two-year low, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. [EIA/S]
Crude inventories fell by 7.5 million barrels in the week to March 24 to 473.7 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 100,000-barrel rise.
Meanwhile, reports about Russian crude production falling by around 300,000 barrels a day in the first three weeks of March, less than the targeted cuts of 500,000 bpd, and strength in the U.S. dollar, erased oil price gains.
The dollar index, which generally trades inversely with oil, was 0.18% higher on Wednesday at 102.67, pulling away from the near seven-week low reached late last week.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Stephen Coates)