Investing.com - Crude futures carried Friday''s gains into Monday, as concerns persisted that fresh economic sanctions slapped on Russia by the West for annexing Crimea could escalate geopolitical tensions and threaten Russian oil exports.
Soft Chinese output data capped gains, however, allowing for choppy trading at times.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil for delivery in May traded at $99.49 a barrel during U.S. trading, up 0.03%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $99.06 a barrel and a high of $100.29 a barrel.The May contract settled up 0.57% at $99.46 a barrel on Friday.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $98.10 a barrel, Thursday''s low, and resistance at $102.89 a barrel, the high from March 7.
The European Union and the U.S. last week intensified sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies to pressure his government to defuse the global standoff over Ukraine.
Western nations added new names to their lists of Russians and Ukrainians punished with asset freezes and travel bans.
Russia followed suit with similar sanctions, and while viewed by markets as a tit-for-tat measure, oil prices rose on concerns diplomatic efforts to diffuse the crisis may be unraveling.
Capping gains, however, were soft Chinese factory numbers.
China’s HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index, the earliest indicator of the country''s industrial activity, fell to an eight-month low of 48.1 in March from a final reading of 48.5 in February, defying expectations for a rise to 48.7.
China is the world''s second-largest consumer of crude.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent Oil futures for May delivery were down 0.04% and trading at US$106.88 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$7.39 a barrel.