Brent crude prices edged above $101 a barrel on Wednesday after data pointing to weaker-than-expected U.S. economic growth eased fears the Federal Reserve could soon wind down its stimulus plan.

A pledge by the European Central Bank to keep its economic support in place offered further support to oil prices.

Brent crude for August delivery was up 22 cents at $101.48 a barrel by 1355 GMT. U.S. crude was up 3 cents to $95.35 a barrel after earlier losing more than a dollar.

The Brent benchmark is down nearly 8 percent for the quarter, its third quarterly loss in a row, having dropped after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last week laid out a roadmap to slow its pace of bond buying and on concerns over economic slowdown in China.

U.S. growth in the first quarter was less than expected, held back by a moderate pace of consumer spending, weak business investment and declining exports.

The weak data, nevertheless, boosted oil prices by easing concerns that the Fed will roll back its economic stimulus programme sooner rather than later.

"It's all about the QE (quantitative easing). Negative data distances it's taking place, and there is a bit of a bounce after the GDP data," said Simon Wardell, an analyst at Global Insight.

Data on Tuesday showing strong gains in U.S. orders for durable goods and rising consumer confidence had earlier put prices under pressure.

At the same time, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Wednesday the ECB was nowhere near exiting its accommodative monetary policy, while seeing gradual recovery in the region by the end of the year.

"Central bankers did their best to calm the nerves after the Fed's hint last week on exiting its stimulus ... Both the ECB and the BoE (Bank of England) sought to give reassurance that they still see monetary stimulus as the best way to handle their economies," PVM analyst Tamas Varga said.

Industry data showing a smaller-than-estimated drop in U.S. crude oil inventories last week, pointing to slow demand in the world's top consumer, also weighed on prices.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 28,000 barrels for the week to June 21, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed, well below a forecast drop of 1.7 million based on a Reuters poll of analysts.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its stockpiles report later on Wednesday.

Deutsche Bank lowered its projections for oil prices in the second half of 2013, with Brent set to average $106 a barrel and the U.S. benchmark forecast to average $96 a barrel.

"Prospects for loose fundamentals to persist combined with a bullish U.S. dollar outlook have prompted us to lower our price decks," the bank said in a report.