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WTI Trades Near Three-Week High on Shrinking Stockpiles, Ukraine

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- West Texas Intermediate traded at the highest in almost three weeks and headed for a quarterly advance amid shrinking stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma and concern the crisis in Ukraine threatens supplies from Russia.

Futures were little changed in New York after gaining 1 percent yesterday to the highest close since March 7. Supplies at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI contracts, fell last week to a two-year low, government data showed. The crisis in Ukraine may escalate, President Barack Obama said this week, warning sanctions on Russia may include the energy sector.

WTI for May delivery rose 4 cents to $101.32 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 8:17 a.m. Seoul time. The contract gained $1.02 to $101.28 yesterday. The volume of all futures traded was about 71 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are up 3 percent this year and down 1.2 percent in March.

Brent for May settlement increased 80 cents, or 0.8 percent, to close at $107.83 a barrel on the London-based ICE futures Europe exchange yesterday. Prices are down 2.7 percent this year. The European benchmark crude ended the session at a premium of $6.55 to WTI yesterday.

Brent’s premium has narrowed from more than $14 in January as Cushing supplies started falling after the southern link of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline to the refineries and ports along the Texas Gulf Coast opened, easing a bottleneck from the hub.

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