* U.S. approves asset freezes, travel bans
* U.S. jobless claims, manufacturing activity fall
* Crimean parliament votes to join Russia
* Coming up: U.S. nonfarm payrolls Friday 8:30 a.m. EST
(Rewrites top, adds settlement prices, adds analyst commentary)
By Elizabeth Dilts
NEW YORK, March 6 U.S. oil rose on Thursday
after falling to near three-week lows as traders reconsidered
the geopolitical risk posed by worsening diplomatic relations
over Russia's intervention in Crimea.
The American benchmark fell by more than $1 about two hours
before the settlement, then reversed losses to end the day
higher after comments from U.S. President Barack Obama indicated
the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, one of the world's
biggest oil producers, was not easing as much as traders
"The relief sell-off was probably premature in terms of
thinking the (Ukraine) situation has resolved itself," said John
Kilduff, partner at Again Capital, LLC in New York. "The
president's remarks reminded everyone that the situation is far
U.S. crude fell to an intra-session low of $100.13 at
12:56 p.m. EST, where it found support near the 200-day moving
average of $100.02. U.S. oil settled 11 cents higher at $101.56
Brent settled 34 cents higher at $108.10, but was
not able to push higher than its 200-day moving average.
Obama's comments came hours after he ordered sanctions on
people responsible for Moscow's military intervention in
Ukraine, including travel bans and freezing of their U.S.
Crimea's Moscow-backed parliament voted to allow the
southern Ukrainian region to become part of Russia earlier on
Also supporting U.S. crude, jobless claims fell by 26,000 to
a three-month low last week, a positive sign for the labor
market, according to data released Thursday. But manufacturing
activity slowed in January, indicating a potential fall in
Capping gains in oil were the record high levels of U.S.
crude inventories on the Gulf Coast that had built up ahead of
refinery maintenance season when demand typically falls.
Traders awaited Friday's nonfarm payrolls data for a fuller
indication of economic strength in the world's largest oil
A Reuters survey forecast an increase of 149,000 jobs in
February, stronger than the weather-depressed gains of 113,000
in January and 75,000 in December.
Nonfarm payrolls are due to be released Friday at 8:30 a.m.
EST (1330 GMT).
(Additional reporting by Shadi Bushra and Peg Mackey in London,
and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Singapore; Editing by David
Evans, William Hardy, Marguerita Choy and Meredith Mazzilli)