Investing.com - Crude prices shot up on Tuesday after bottom fishers snapped up nicely priced positions, erasing earlier losses stemming from mixed U.S. data and expectations that geopolitical concerns in Ukraine won''t disrupt oil exports out of Russia.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May traded at $98.75 a barrel during U.S. trading, up 1.15%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of $97.29 a barrel and a high of $98.97 a barrel.
The May contract settled down 0.95% at $97.62 a barrel on Monday.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $97.00 a barrel, Monday''s low, and resistance at $99.25 a barrel, Friday''s high.
Mixed data sent oil prices to levels ripe for bargain hunting on Tuesday.
The Labor Department on Tuesday reported that the U.S. consumer price index slowed to 1.1% in February from 1.6% in January. Analysts had expected the annual inflation rate to decline to 1.2%.
Month-on-month, U.S. consumer prices rose 0.1% in February, in line with forecasts.
Core inflation rates, which are stripped of volatile food and energy prices, rose 1.6% on year and 0.1% month-on-month, both figures in line with market forecasts.
The Federal Reserve plays close attention to core inflation rates when deciding on monetary policy.
Separately, the Commerce Department reported that the number of building permits issued in the U.S. rose to a four-month high in February, rebounding after a sharp drop in January.
The number of building permits issued last month jumped 7.7% to 1.018 million units, beating market calls for a 1.6% increase.
U.S. housing starts, however, fell 0.2% last month to hit a seasonally adjusted 907,000 units, disappointing expectations for an increase of 3.4% to 910,000 units.
The mixed data sent investors rethinking how quickly the U.S. economy moves along its road to recovery and how much energy and fuel it will demand going forward.
Elsewhere, markets breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow isn''t seeking "a partition of Ukraine," signaling that Russia''s moves in the area would be limited.
The speech came one day after President Putin recognized the results of Sunday''s referendum in Crimea, which saw a majority of voters opting to split from Ukraine.
The European Union and the U.S. have declared the vote illegal and imposed sanctions.
Oil also edged lower on expectations that the Ukraine crisis won''t affect oil shipments, though it got a boost after CNN reported that Ukraine Defense Ministry Spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said at least one Ukrainian officer had been injured in an assault on a base by "armed people in masks" near the Crimean capital of Simferopol.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for May delivery were up 0.39% and trading at US$106.65 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at US$7.90 a barrel.
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