West TX Oil around $98.50 as Focus Shifts to Supply Risks

U.S. crude futures held steady at around $98 a barrel in early Asian trade on Thursday, after plunging more than 2 percent in their biggest drop in two months overnight as investors turned their focus to the unfolding geopolitical crisis in Ukraine.

U.S. crude inched 5 cents higher at $98.04 by 0030 GMT, after settling $2.04 down at $97.99, below the 50-day moving average of $98.32. The fall came after the United States announced unexpected plans for a test release of strategic oil reserves while weekly data showed a big rise in crude stockpiles.  Brent futures gained 12 cents to $108.14 after ending at its lowest in a week.

The EU agreed on a framework on Wednesday for its first sanctions on Russia since the Cold War, a stronger response to the Ukraine crisis than many expected and a mark of solidarity with Washington in the drive to make Moscow pay for seizing Crimea.


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