Updated from 12:01 a.m. EST

Crude oil prices closed decidedly lower Wednesday with traders awaiting the release of weekly inventory data after the market's close.

The February futures contract fell 83 cents to $47.55 in Nymex floor trading. The benchmark U.S. crude closed unchanged Tuesday in a somewhat volatile session in which prices broke $49 a barrel for the first time since November, but then faltered.

Weekly data from the Energy Department will be released at 5 p.m. EST, later than usual because of the public holiday Monday. Traders expect gains in crude, gasoline and distillate stockpiles. The market's recent focus on the unseasonably cold weather gripping much of the U.S. has boosted prices.

Traders continue to speculate about whether OPEC will agree on another round of production cutbacks at its Jan. 30 meeting in Vienna, having already cut production by 1 million barrels a day at the beginning of this month.

The benchmark U.S. crude is up 12% this year after suffering a steep price correction that took it some 25% below the record price of $55 a barrel in late October.