- Crude oil prices rose marginally in Asia on Monday as an annexation of the Crimean region looked inevitable after a vote on Sunday, promting President Barack Obama to warn Russia President Vladimir Putin again that the United States and Europe are "prepared to impose additional costs" on Russia for its actions.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in April traded at $98.68 a barrel, up 0.12%, after ending last week at $98.89 a barrel.

The U.S. and Europe have said they would impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on Russia, the world''s top oil exporter, next week, if the vote took place. On Sunday reports said an overwhelming majority supported the referendum to join Russia with celebrations underway. Official results are due within the day.

Oil prices received an additional boost lst week after the International Energy Agency raised its forecast for global oil demand this year. The IEA increased its forecast by 95,000 barrels to 1.4 million a day, citing stronger economic growth.

Despite Friday’s gains, U.S. crude futures, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, fell 3.59%, or $3.69, on the week amid concerns over a slowdown in demand in the U.S. and China, the largest and second-largest oil consumers.

In the week ahead, investors will be looking ahead to Wednesday’s monetary policy announcement by the Federal Reserve amid speculation the central bank is likely to continue to scale back its stimulus program.

The Fed is also to publish its economic forecasts and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will hold a press conference.

Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers reduced their bullish bets in New York-traded oil futures in the week ending March 11.

Net longs totaled 328,095 contracts, down 5.3% from net longs of 346,469 in the preceding week.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for May delivery added 1.21%, or $1.29, on Friday to settle the week at $108.21 a barrel.

Despite Friday’s gains, the May Brent contract declined 0.52%, or $0.57 cents, on the week. Meanwhile, the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $9.32 a barrel by close of trade on Friday.

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