Oil futures climbed Thursday, with prices settling near $102 a barrel as support from continued tensions in Ukraine outweighed pressure from hefty U.S. crude supplies. Meanwhile, after initially holding their gains, natural-gas prices ended lower in the wake of a U.S. government report showing a build in weekly stockpiles that was slightly more than expected.
Crude oil for June delivery rose 50 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $101.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. June Brent futures rose $1.22, or 1.1%, to $110.33 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange. “The price of crude remains supported almost entirely by concerns over geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and Libya. After all, one would have expected oil prices to be much lower than they actually are given the excessive supply of U.S. oil and weaker demand,” said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at FOREX.com.
Rebels in Libya reportedly continue to hold control of several oil ports, and news reports Thursday said Russia plans to launch military exercises near the Ukraine border in response to the latest clashes, in which at least five pro-Russian activists were killed.“Markets are gaining buoyancy from worries related to Ukraine on the one hand, but I think more importantly on the ongoing escalation in OECD economic sentiment,” said Matt Parry, senior oil analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris.