Investing.com - U.S. oil futures inched lower on Monday, as investors continued to monitor events in Ukraine, after results of Sunday''s referendum showed voters in Crimea voting to join Russia.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May dropped to a session low of $98.29 a barrel, before trimming losses to last trade at $98.34 during European morning hours, down 0.22%, or 22 cents.
The May contract rose 0.63%, or 62 cents, to settle at $98.56 a barrel on Friday.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at $97.19 a barrel, the low from March 12 and resistance at $98.95 a barrel, the high from March 14.
Results showed that nearly 97% of voters in Crimea chose to break away from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum deemed illegal by the European Union and the U.S.
Russia''s lower house of parliament has stated that it will pass legislation allowing Crimea to join the nation in the "very near future."
U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington rejected the results of the referendum and warned that the U.S. was ready to impose sanctions on Moscow.
Western countries have threatened to ratchet up sanctions against Russia if it does not back down on annexing Crimea.
Meanwhile, market players looked ahead to key U.S. economic data later in the day for further indications on the strength of the economy and the future course of monetary policy.
The U.S. is to publish data on manufacturing activity in the Empire State, as well as reports on industrial production and long term securities transactions.
The Federal Reserve is to kick off its two-day policy-setting meeting on Tuesday, amid expectations for a reduction in its bond buying program to $55 billion from the current $65 billion.
Oil has been under heavy selling pressure in recent sessions as growing concerns over the health of China’s economy dampened demand for growth-linked assets.
The Asian nation is the world''s second largest oil consumer after the U.S. and has been the engine of strengthening demand.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for May delivery declined 0.63%, or 69 cents, to trade at $107.53 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at $9.19 a barrel.