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Oil above US$101 a barrel; investors weigh Russia sanctions, rising supplies

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The price of oil crept above US$101 a barrel Tuesday as investors assessed the latest sanctions on Russia over the country's role in the crisis in Ukraine.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery gained 44 cents to close at US$101.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, an international benchmark used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose 86 cents to US$108.98 in London.

Investors were contemplating the impact of new sanctions by the United States and its European allies on more than two dozen government officials, executives and companies in Russia, a major energy producer. The sanctions were not as harsh as feared, with no public companies or major sectors of the economy affected.

"While the crisis has had limited impact on energy flows so far, the tensions may presage a period of volatile geopolitics in the former Soviet Union," analysts at Barclay's wrote in a report.

Investors will also be monitoring fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude oil and refined products. They will also weigh key data on the U.S. job market, as payroll processing company ADP issues a report Wednesday and the U.S. governments issues its unemployment report for April on Friday.

U.S. crude stocks have been on the climb and were 13 per cent above five-year averages two weeks ago.

Figures for the week ended April 25 are expected to show an increase of 2.1 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a decline of 1.75 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline rose two cents to US$3.06 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil added two cents to US$2.97 a gallon and natural gas gained three cents to US$4.83 per 1,000 cubic feet.


The Canadian Press

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