SEOUL, March 5 U.S. crude oil futures held just
above $103 a barrel on Wednesday after pulling back from 5-1/2
month highs hit earlier in the week, as tensions over Russian
military intervention in Crimea calmed.
* U.S. crude for April delivery gained 1 cents at
$103.34 a barrel as of 0018 GMT after settling $1.59 lower at
$103.33 in the previous session.
* April Brent crude settled $1.90 lower at $109.30 a
* President Vladimir Putin delivered a robust defence of
Russia's actions in Crimea on Tuesday and said he would use
force in Ukraine only as a last resort, easing market fears that
East-West tension over the former Soviet republic could lead to
But tension remained high on the ground, with Russian forces
firing warning shots in a confrontation with Ukrainian
servicemen, and Russian navy ships were reported to have
blockaded the strait separating the Ukrainian Black Sea
peninsula from Russia.
* In Asia, China is aiming for economic growth of about 7.5
percent in 2014 and to keep consumer inflation around 3.5
percent for the year, Premier Li Keqiang said as the country
began its annual meeting of parliament, the National People's
The annual growth target was the same as in 2013 - as
expected by most analysts.
* U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose by 1.2 million
barrels last week, in line with expectations, inventory data
released by the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday.
Stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, where the American benchmark is
priced, fell by 2.6 million barrels, the data showed.
The government's Energy Information Administration will
publish its data on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EST.
* In Libya, top officials said production at the El Sharara
oilfield may resume as they are working to address protesters
demands. Production there has fallen to little over 200,000
barrels per day from 1.4 million bpd in July due to protests
that closed the oilfield in the eastern region of the country.
* Asian stocks rose and the dollar held firm in early trade
on Wednesday, after remarks from Russian President Vladimir
Putin allayed fears of an imminent military conflict in Ukraine.
The dollar index edged up to 80.150, moving away from
Friday's two-month low of 79.688.
* The following data is expected on Wednesday: (Time in GMT)
0145 China HSBC Services PMI
0843 Italy Markit/ADACI Services PMI
0848 France Markit Services PMI
0853 Germany Markit Services PMI
0858 Euro zone Markit Services PMI
1000 Euro zone Revised Q4 GDP
1000 Euro zone Retail sales
1315 U.S. ADP national employment
1500 U.S. ISM Non-manufacturing PMI