Oil prices ease

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Singapore - Oil prices dipped in Asian trade Tuesday, but the losses were limited by lingering concerns about the crisis in Ukraine, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for May delivery, was down 20 cents at $104.17 a barrel in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for June declined 12 cents to $109.83.

Tan Chee Tat, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said continued tensions in Ukraine are keeping prices “at high levels”.

“There are some agreements being made among the countries to try and resolve the conflict through diplomatic means but the markets are not too convinced,” Tan told AFP.

The situation in Ukraine has become a proxy battle for influence between US-led Western powers supporting the government in Kiev, and Russia, which last month took over Crimea and is suspected of backing separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow and Washington each called on Monday for more action from the other to ease the crisis between Ukraine's new government and pro-Russian separatists in the east.

A brief Easter truce was broken on Sunday when two insurgents were killed in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk. It could not be independently confirmed who initiated the clash, said to have occurred at a roadblock manned by separatists.

The incident undermined an accord worked out in Geneva last week between Russia, Ukraine and Western powers for pro-Moscow rebel groups to surrender their weapons.

Ukraine is a major conduit for Russian natural gas to Western Europe and traders are concerned that a full-scale armed conflict in the region will disrupt supplies and send prices rocketing.

Singapore's United Overseas Bank said investors will also be looking at the US home sales data for March, an indicator of economic demand in the world's biggest economy. - Sapa-AFP


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