Brent crude for June delivery gained 48 cents to $100.39 a barrel early on Wednesday, after dropping to a session low of $98 on Tuesday, the weakest since July 2012.
US crude for May delivery slipped 2 cents to $88.70 a barrel, off a four-month low of $86.06 hit on Tuesday.
“I think at this stage we are seeing a bit of bargain hunting,” said Ben Le Brun, analyst at OptionsXpress in Sydney.
“But oil prices are going to be dictated by economic data that we see coming out of the US and obviously the (Federal Reserve) quantitative easing program is still in place so that should at least underpin some support for commodity prices.”
He added that broader concerns on the state of the global economy remained in the market, capping oil price gains.
US consumer prices fell in March for the first time in four months and factory output slipped, strengthening the argument for the Federal Reserve to maintain its monetary stimulus to speed up economic growth.
A rise in US March housing starts to the highest since 2008 was a bright spot, but insufficient to turn oil sentiment bullish.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday trimmed projections for global economic growth for this year and next to take into account sharp government spending cuts in the United States and the latest struggles of recession-stricken Europe.
While it said economic prospects had improved in recent months with a fading of financial risks, it warned Europe against relaxing efforts to combat its debt crisis given the messy bailout in Cyprus and a political stalemate in Italy.
Brent crude shed almost 6% over the past five sessions – the biggest five-day drop since September last year — in a wider commodities rout after data showed economic growth in China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, had slowed unexpectedly in the first three months of 2013.