US oil ends up in quiet trade; Ukraine, data provide backstop

Oil fracking
David McNew | Getty Images

Oil strengthened slightly on Monday, with U.S. crude supported by positive economic data, but prices were still below highs reached on Thursday as traders saw little new to augment their worries over tensions in Ukraine.

The U.S. benchmark rose after the Conference Board said its leading economic indicators, a gauge of future economic activity, rose in March. But volumes were low in both markets as traders kept to the sidelines after Easter Sunday.

Brent crude futures were up 40 cents near $110 a barrel, within view of its highest levels since early March. U.S. crude oil futures rose 7 cents to settle at $104.37 a barrel.

An agreement struck by the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union to end violence in Eastern Ukraine struck last week in Geneva appeared to unravel over the weekend after an attack on a checkpoint manned by separatists left three dead. The crisis in Ukraine has led to the worst confrontation between the United States and Russia since the Cold War and has supported oil prices due to concerns over what impact any future sanctions may have in particular on oil supply.

Investors are also keeping an eye on the resumption of shipments from Libya, where two weeks ago the government in Tripoli reached an agreement with rebels in the east to end an eight-month occupation of four oil ports.

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