Brent Improves As Worries About Ukraine Return
Oil prices surged again on Thursday, as investors kept a close eye on new developments on the crisis in Ukraine. After nearly to almost a three-week low, Brent prices rose after comments from US President Barack Obama suggested the geopolitical risk in Ukraine was not improving as much as investors thought.
The commodity traded at 108.06 at 7:45 GMT as investors waited for US non-farm payrolls data, due out later on Friday.
CNBC reported that the Obama administration began to roll out economic sanctions on Russia on Thursday, including US asset freezing and travel bans. Meanwhile, the Russian-backed parliament in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula began the proceedings for a vote to make the region a part of Russia.
Shortly after, Obama addressed the public saying that the sanctions were designed to “impose a cost” on Russia and expressed his opposition on the decision to allow Crimea to separate from Ukraine. He pointed out that the vote was a direct violation of international law and called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to work towards de-escalation.
Adding to crude's strength was data from the US which showed that jobless claims fell by 26,000 last week. The figures indicated that the nation's labor market was on the rebound, a good sign for the economy.
However, a separate report showed that manufacturing activity decreased in January, capping gains. The data suggested that energy demand in the world's largest oil consumer was falling.
Now, investors will be closely watching US non-farms payrolls data due out later on Friday for a better picture of the health of the American economy.
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