U.S. Crude Edged Lower In Range Bound Trade


U.S. crude futures fell modestly in range-bound trade on Friday as the market balanced support from a drawdown in domestic crude stockpiles against technical sell points that have kept oil from rallying, while Brent was lower as traders awaited developments in the Ukraine crisis.

U.S. crude oil settled 27 cents down at $99.99 per barrel, and edged 0.24 percent higher over last week after U.S. government data on Wednesday showed crude supplies fell last week for the first time since late March, though overall supplies are still at record highs.

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U.S. crude prices have been contained in a tight $2-trading range throughout the week, struggling to rise much above the 200-day moving average at $100.48 and finding a floor at the 100-day moving average of $99.44.

"Oil at just below $100 is pretty fair given that commercial supplies are at near record highs," said Phil Flynn, "There's a lot of support around $99.50. We're closing near the lower low of the range but the next new resistance will probably be $101.50. That will be the channel we're in barring a major risk breakout."

Oil speculators cut net long U.S. crude positions in the week to May 6, according to data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Brent futures fell 15 cents to settle $107.89 per barrel, and was on track to shed about half a percent over last week.

A stronger U.S. dollar, which traded at a one-week high against a basket of its major trading partners' currencies, , added pressure on crude as oil and other commodities priced in the greenback are more expensive when the dollar rises in value.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea for the first time since Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine, a move that angered Kiev and upset the West, while bloody clashes broke out between pro-Moscow separatists and Ukrainian forces in the port of Mariupol.

Separatists in eastern Ukraine will go ahead on Sunday with a referendum on self-rule that could lead to war with Ukraine, having ignored a public call from Putin on Thursday to postpone the vote.

European Union ambassadors agreed to add about 15 people and several Crimean-based companies to the EU's list of sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, though the group said it will wait to until Monday after the referendum to make a final decision.

China's consumer price index rose in April from a year earlier, while the producer price index fell, bolstering market expectations that authorities will ease monetary policy or take other steps to reverse the slowdown in momentum.


The potential for increased Libyan oil exports remained a background factor that could affect Brent prices, either to the up or downside.

A Libyan government deal to reopen major oil ports controlled by rebels was seen as unravelling after the appointment of a new Islamist-backed prime minister fuelled distrust and eroded support for the accord, bullish for Brent.

However, Libya's government said it remained committed to implementing the agreement with rebels and reopening the eastern ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, bearish for Brent.

Oil investors were also watching the outcome of talks between Iran and world powers over ending Tehran's disputed nuclear program, and the slow, steady progress was helping cap gains in oil prices.

Iran and six world powers held more talks that both sides described as useful, although a Western diplomat said they were still struggling to overcome deep disagreements on the future of Iranian atomic capabilities.

(By Elizabeth Dilts; Additional reporting by Julia Fioretti in London, and Manash Goswami, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Singapore; Editing by Christopher Johnson, Jason Neely and Marguerita Choy)