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West Texas Intermediate crude rebounded from the lowest close in almost three weeks as the U.S. said it will toughen sanctions on Russia, the biggest energy exporter, over the Ukraine crisis. Brent was steady as Libya lifted force majeure at one of its ports.
Futures advanced as much as 0.9 percent in New York. The U.S. will impose new sanctions today on people and companies close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, President Barack Obama said. Among those that may be targeted are Igor Sechin, chief executive officer of OAO Rosneft, the country’s biggest oil producer, people familiar with developments said. Libya’s National Oil Corp. will lift a suspension of exports at the port of Zueitina, previously under rebel control, from today.
“The price is being supported by uncertainty as to the breadth and impact of sanctions taken against Russia,” Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London, said by e-mail. “Another important consideration is how Russia might retaliate against sanctions.”
WTI for June delivery rose as much as 92 cents to $101.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and traded for $101.17 at 1:47 p.m. London time. Prices dropped 1.3 percent to $100.60 on April 25, the lowest settlement since April 7. The volume of all futures traded was about 8.5 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.
Brent for June settlement pared gains of as much as 62 cents to $110.20 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, trading for $109.62 at 1:49 p.m. London time. The contract closed at $109.58 on April 25, down 0.7 percent, the biggest decline since April 7.
The U.S. benchmark crude was at a discount of $8.46 to Brent on ICE. It ended the April 25 session at $8.98, the widest based on closing prices in six weeks.