Oil prices fall after strong gains

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IOL image oil rig generic FREE IMAGES An oil rig is shown in this file photo.

London - Oil prices fell on Monday as dealers booked profits after strong gains last week fuelled by positive US economic data and the tensions in Ukraine.

New York's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in May fell 43 cents to $101.24 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for May dipped 28 cents to stand at $107.79 a barrel in London afternoon deals.

“We are seeing some easing because of some profit taking,” Tan Chee Tat, an investment analyst at Phillip Futures, told AFP:

WTI prices got a boost last week from data showing robust US consumer spending.

Orders for US durable goods - a key indicator of the economy - rose 2.2 percent in February from the prior month, beating expectations for a 1.0-percent decline.

Investors are also tracking events in Europe as the top diplomats from the US and Russia held talks to find a solution to the crisis in Ukraine.

Russian troops are massed on the borders of eastern Ukraine, sparking fears about Moscow's plans after it took control of the Crimean peninsula this month.

While the two failed Sunday to reach a breakthrough deal in Paris they did agree to keep talking after what were described as “frank” and “constructive” negotiations.

The latest bid to resolve the worst East-West standoff in the post-Cold War era came after Russian leader Vladimir Putin unexpectedly called US President Barack Obama on Friday.

Russia provides about a quarter of Europe's natural gas supplies, with about half of those exports travelling through pipelines in Ukraine, analysts say.

Traders fear that an escalation of the crisis would disrupt those supplies. - Sapa-AFP

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