The price of oil was little changed above $101 a barrel Monday as markets kept on eye on talks between the U.S. and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was down 20 cents to $101.47 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract rose 39 cents leaving it 2 per cent higher on the week, propelled by signs of stronger economic growth in the U.S. and global supply concerns.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international varieties of oil, was down 17 cents to $107.90 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Sunday in Paris and while they agreed that a diplomatic resolution was required, there seemed to have been little progress on key issues like the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border.
Analysts said oil prices, which have been supported by the possibility that economic sanctions against Russian officials and businessmen could expand to affect Russia’s energy sector, likely would stay near current levels.
“The plentiful supply, particularly from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, is offset by the ongoing production outages in Libya and the — albeit fairly remote — prospect of the West imposing sanctions on the Russian oil and gas sector,” said a report from Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
Markets were also looking ahead to a report on China’s manufacturing sector.
China is set to release official manufacturing figures for March on Tuesday that could cement expectations for new stimulus in the world’s second-biggest economy. Recent data has suggested China’s economy is continuing to slow — growth of 7.7 per cent last year was the slowest in two decades.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline fell 1.15 cent to $2.9252 a gallon.
— Heating oil shed 0.97 cent to $2.9381 a gallon.
— Natural gas lost 1.4 cents to $4.471 per 1,000 cubic feet.