- Crude oil prices rose slightly in Asia on Wednesday on continued geopolitical tensions over the Ukraine, but ample U.S. industry inventory data tempered gains.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in May traded at $99.31, up 0.10%, after hitting an overnight session low of $98.82 a barrel and a high of $100.22 a barrel.

Brent crude for May delivery, which gauges global oil prices, rose 18 cents, or 0.2%, to $106.99 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange on Tuesday.

Industry trade group the American Petroleum Institute said domestic crude stockpiles rose 6.3 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks declined 2.8 million barrels, distillate stocks rose 0.3 million barrels and refinery runs were 86.8% of capacity.

The U.S. Department of Energy will release its own estimates on Wednesday.

Overnight, crude futures fell as investors remained spooked over soft Chinese output data released during the weekend, largely shrugging off robust U.S. consumer confidence data.
Crude falls on China output data, looks past U.S. confidence report

Soft Chinese factory data released over the weekend continued to water down oil prices on Tuesday.

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.

Robust consumer confidence data failed to rally prices, as mixed U.S. housing data disappointed energy markets.

The Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index increased to 82.3 this month, the highest since January 2008, from 78.3 in February. Analysts had expected the index to tick up to 78.6.

The report showed that consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may gather momentum in the coming months.

Separately, the Commerce Department said new home sales fell by the most in five months in February, indicating headwinds still face the housing sector.

Sales of new homes fell by 3.3% in February to 440,000 units, the weakest level since last September. Still, analysts were calling for a decline of 4.9%.

January''s sales were revised down to a 455,000-unit pace from the previously reported 468,000-unit rate.

Also on Tuesday, a report on U.S. housing showed that prices rose slightly less than expected in January.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index rose 13.2% in January from a year earlier, compared to forecasts for a 13.3% gain.

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