US oil ends lower as Ukraine optimism outweighs stockpiles

Reuters with

Brent crude turned lower, and U.S. crude pared gains on Wednesday on news that Ukraine's president-elect was working on a peace plan and that a meeting with Russia's leader this week in France was not being ruled out.

Rising U.S. distillate stockpiles pressuring heating oil futures and weak distillate profit margins in Northwest Europe also were cited by brokers and analysts as triggering the intraday reversal by crude futures.

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Brent crude for July delivery was down 20 cents above $109 a barrel, after settling down 1 cent the previous day. U.S. crude, or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), for July delivery ended 2 cents lower at $102.64 a barrel.

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said U.S. crude stocks fell by 3.4 million barrels last week as imports dropped, a bigger slide than the expected 300,000-barrel draw and the inventory drop reported by an industry group on Tuesday. Crude stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point of the U.S. crude oil contract, also fell, declining 321,000 barrels, while total U.S. imports of crude fell by 686,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 7.05 million bpd.

U.S. distillate inventories rose 2.01 million barrels, the EIA said, much more than the 400,000-barrel expected build. Gasoline stocks also rose, by 210,000 barrels.

Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko said it was possible he would meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin at commemorations in France this week marking the anniversary of the World War Two D-Day landings. Poroshenko said a peace plan he is working on to end violent clashes between separatists and government forces in Ukraine would include de-centralization of power, a wide amnesty, and elections for local government.

The political turmoil in Libya that has curbed the OPEC member's crude output, along with tension between Russia and Western powers over Ukraine, has been underpinning oil prices.

--By Reuters