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Policy: Environment & Energy

Crude oil price edges down as Ukraine jitters ease

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News,Business,Energy and Environment,Oil,Ukraine

The price of oil fell below $101 a barrel on Thursday as U.S. stockpiles of crude increased and concern about Ukraine eased.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 70 cents at $100.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, it plunged $1.88, or 1.8 percent, to close at $101.45.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 33 cents to $107.43 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

"While Brent is under pressure from the easing of the Ukraine crisis and the prospect of a partial return of the Libyan oil supply to the market, U.S. inventory data gave rise to selling pressure on" the Nymex contract, analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt said in note to clients.

Market jitters eased even as leaders of the 28-nation European Union met in Brussels to decide on whether to impose sanctions against Russia over its military incursion into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Oil prices surged earlier on fears sanctions against Russian exports might disrupt supplies.

In the U.S., the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said supplies of oil rose by 1.4 million barrels last week, boosted by increasing domestic output. It was the seventh week in a row of rising crude stockpiles. Also, demand for gasoline and distillate fuels, which include diesel and heating oil, fell over the past four weeks compared with a year ago, the agency said.

Oil prices received some support from fresh data showing the number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the lowest level in three months.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.33 cent at $2.937 per gallon.

— Heating oil fell 2.02 cent to $2.972 per gallon.

— Natural gas gained 3.5 cents to $4.558 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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