Oil prices rise as Ukraine offsets higher stockpiles
Oil prices rose slightly on Wednesday as concerns over supplies through Ukraine offset official data showing a jump in US crude inventories, traders said.
New York's main contract West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in May climbed 35 cents to $102.91 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for May gained 28 cents to stand at $107.95 a barrel in late London deals.
The US Department of Energy said the country's commercial crude stockpiles rose by four million barrels last week, four times the amount forecast by analysts, indicating reduced demand in the world's biggest consumer of oil.
Traders were later set to focus on the release of minutes from the first US Federal Reserve policy-meeting with new chairman Janet Yellen at the helm for further clues on the US economy.
Oil prices had meanwhile surged on Tuesday, with WTI jumping $2.12 to the highest level in a month after pro-Russian protesters seized buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Brent won $1.85.
Analysts said oil prices remained propped up by the heightened tensions in eastern Europe.
"Oil prices are boosted by the same underlying factor that has dominated the agenda recently -- the escalation of crisis in Ukraine," noted analyst Fawad Razaqzada at traders Forex.com.
With Ukraine a key conduit for Russian gas to Europe, traders fear that any armed conflict will disrupt supplies and send oil and gas prices skyrocketing.
Russian deliveries account for 34 percent of the natural gas supplies to the European Union, according to the Soufan Group, a US-based intelligence firm.
© 2014 AFP