Brent Oil Falls as Russian Supply Worries Ease


NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - Brent oil futures fell on Wednesday as worries over sanctions affecting Russian oil supplies eased, while U.S. crude oil rose on an inventory draw at the benchmark's pricing hub and ahead of the front month contract's expiration.

Western sanctions imposed on Monday against Russia over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea targeted individuals accused of involvement and not broad trade.

Washington and Brussels said further sanctions would follow. On a trip to Japan, Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil major Rosneft and close ally of Putin, said expanding sanctions would only aggravate the crisis.

Brent settled 94 cents lower at $105.85 per barrel after falling by $1.08 to an intra-day low of $105.71 per barrel, the lowest since Feb. 5.

"There is weakness in Brent because it doesn't appear that anything immediate is going to happen in Ukraine," said Joseph Posillico, senior vice president at Jefferies Bache in New York.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles soared nearly 6 million barrels last week, more than double forecasts, as refinery utilization fell during a time of low seasonal demand, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed.

U.S. crude futures rose in spite of the build as a 989,000-barrel draw at the Cushing, Oklahoma, oil hub lent support. As well, the April contract expires Thursday, spurring some investors to cover short positions.


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