Brent Steady On Unfolding Ukrainian Crisis
Brent crude oil traded at $108.15 at 6:08 GMT on Thursday morning as investors looked to the crisis in Ukraine where Western officials made last ditch efforts to prevent Russia from annexing the nation's Crimean peninsula in a vote set to take place over the weekend.
The commodity was also supported by an OPEC report which helped ease worries that the slowdown in China was crippling global demand.
The spread between Brent and WTI widened overnight after the US announced that it was planning to release strategic oil reserves. The plan was a surprise to investors, and compounded downward pressure on the commodity from inventory data which showed a rise in the nation's crude stockpiles.
Brent has gotten most of its strength recently from the situation in Ukraine, which has shown no signs of letting up. Reuters reported that the European Union agreed on a plan to implement sanctions on Russia this week for the first time since the Cold War. Most weren't expecting the EU to take such a firm stance, however the region has agreed to support the US in penalizing Moscow for intervening in Crimea.
Also boosting Brent prices was a report from OPEC which showed that the global demand outlook is set to rise more than expected in 2014. The organization increased its forecast for the second month in a row, citing economic growth in both Europe and the US for the renewed optimism. The revised forecast predicted that global demand will climb 1.14 million barrels per day, a 50,000 bpd increase from last month's expectations.
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