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US oil brought down by sky-high stockpiles, ends near $101

Crude struggled on Wednesday, after weekly data showed U.S. crude inventories hit a record high, though prices found some support from the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.

U.S. crude oil stocks jumped 3.5 million barrels to 397.6 million barrels last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. That is the highest level since records began in 1982, and a far bigger rise than predicted by analysts. At the same time, stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for the U.S. crude oil contract fell by 788,000 barrels to their lowest in almost five years.

Source: Denver International Airport

Brent crude for June delivery reversed slight gains after the EIA data to trade 20 cents lower under $109. It had ended 68 cents, or 0.6 percent, lower on Tuesday in its biggest one-day drop in two weeks.

U.S. crude for June delivery fell 31 cents to settle at $101.44 a barrel, after losing more than 2 percent during the previous session as the May contract expired, its steepest decline in nearly four months.

The slide in U.S. crude widened its discount to Brent to the biggest in a month. The U.S. contract recovered slightly, however, after the spread between the two benchmarks held its 200-day moving average of $8.18 a barrel. The moving average is a key technical indicator watched by traders.

Last week's peace deal in Ukraine formally ended on Wednesday as the government said an "Easter truce" was over, vowing to eliminate pro-Russian armed groups in the east of the country. The crisis in Ukraine has supported oil prices due to fears Western powers may increase sanctions against Russia, the world's second-largest crude exporter.

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