- Oil prices rose on Thursday after the Russian standoff over Ukraine heated up, which spooked markets with fears escalation could disrupt Russian oil shipments.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in May traded at $103.97 a barrel during U.S. trading, up 0.20%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $103.56 a barrel and a high of $104.77 a barrel.

The May contract settled up 0.01% at $103.76 a barrel on Wednesday.

Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $102.95 a barrel, Tuesday''s low, and resistance at $104.97 a barrel, Wednesday''s high.

Three pro-Russian separatists were killed in clashes with Ukrainian forces on Wednesday, which kept oil prices elevated.

The U.S., Russia, the European Union and Ukraine held crisis talks in Geneva on Thursday, though concerns the meetings will end in impasse supported crude oil, as the West may impose new sanctions against Russia and bring about supply disruptions. Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia.

Positive U.S. data boosted prices as well by painting a picture of a more robust U.S. economy, one that will demand more fuel and energy going forward.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported earlier that its manufacturing index rose to 16.6 in April, the highest level since September, from 9.0 in March. Analysts had expected the index to tick up to 10.

Separately, the Labor Department reported that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending April 12 rose by 2,000 to 304,000, better than analysts'' forecasts for a rise to 315,000.

Capping gains, however, was Wednesday''s bearish weekly supply report.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 10.01 million barrels in the week ended April 11, far surpassing expectations for a build of 2.25 million barrels, which sent prices falling on concerns the economy is awash in crude.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 394.1 million barrels as of last week.

The EIA said total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels compared to forecasts for a decline of 1.66 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles decreased by 1.27 million barrels.

A report from the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday showed U.S. oil inventories rose by 7.6 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks fell by 500,000 barrels and distillate stocks dropped by 1.1 million barrels.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for May delivery were down 0.26%, trading at US$109.32 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$5.35 a barrel.

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