NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- As oil watchers eye inventory announcements and dollar values today, prices on the new front-month contract dipped slightly on Wednesday morning.

In the early going, benchmark crude for delivery in November was slumping 45 cents at $71.31 during electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

On Tuesday afternoon, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group, said oil inventories grew by 276,000 barrels, while gasoline supplies swelled by 3.8 million barrels last week. Later on Wednesday morning, the Energy Department will release its own inventory figures, with analysts polled by Platts expecting a 2.25 million barrel fall.

Meanwhile, shares of the oil majors ticked higher on Tuesday.

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

,

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

and

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

added 0.4%, 0.8% and 1.1%, respectively, by the closing bell yesterday.

American depositary shares for

BP

(BP) - Get Report

and

Royal Dutch Shell

(RDS.A)

also picked up 1.8% and 1.5%, each, by the end of the day.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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