Singapore: Oil prices were mixed in Asian trade on Tuesday as investors kept a close eye on simmering international tensions over Crimea and awaited the outcome of a Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for April delivery, eased 24 cents to USD 97.84 in mid-morning trade while Brent North Sea crude gained 11 cents to USD 106.35 for its May contract.
"Market participants seem to be waiting for a clear picture of the possible scope for diplomacy in the Black Sea peninsula sovereign crisis," CMC Markets Singapore said in a market commentary.
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday signed a decree recognising Crimea as an independent state following its vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum that has fanned the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.
US-led Western powers responded by slapping Putin's inner circle with sanctions but failed to dissuade the Russian leader from pursuing his apparent goal of annexing Crimea.
More than 70 percent of Russia's gas and oil exports to Europe pass through Ukraine and investors are worried that sanctions against Russia could disrupt supplies from the country.
Traders are also focusing on the policy meeting chaired by new US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The US central bank is expected to further cut its huge stimulus programme as the American economy slowly recovers.
First Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 11:32