Oil edges up as investors weigh Russia sanctions

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Associated Press

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 7:02 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 29 at 8:00 AM

The price of oil crept above $101 a barrel Tuesday as investors assessed the latest sanctions by on Russia over the country's role in the crisis in Ukraine.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery was up 59 cents to $101.43 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Nymex contract rose 24 cents to settle at $100.84 on Monday.

Brent crude, an international benchmark used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries, was up 52 cents to $108.64 in London. It was rebounding after tumbling $1.46 the day before on expectations of higher exports from Libya.

Investors were assessing 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 economies 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 and refined products.

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

"It seems likely that U.S. production is receiving a spurt of growth as a backlog of drilling occurs following the extremely cold winter months," said a report from JBC Energy in Vienna. "This week's set of inventory data will therefore be key as a further build would likely trigger fears that the U.S. is heading toward oversupply."

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

The American Petroleum Institute will release its report on oil stocks later Tuesday, while the report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration — the market benchmark — will be out on Wednesday.

In other energy futures trading:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.9 cent to $2.9954 a gallon.

— Heating oil added 1.39 cents to $2.9584 a gallon.

— Natural gas was unchanged at $4.799 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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