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WTI crude trades above $101 after Ukraine talks

West Texas Intermediate crude traded above $101 a barrel for a third day, as the United States and Russia sought to defuse the crisis over Ukraine. Brent was near $108 a barrel.

Futures were little chagfnged in New York. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after a meeting in Paris that they would hold further talks to seek an outcome acceptable to Ukraine.

WTI and Brent gained last week as Russia massed troops along the Ukrainian border.

“The weekend talks between Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry didn’t come to any agreement, but there does appear to have been an open exchange of views, which is an improvement over the prior posturing,” said Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in New York. “It’s clear that any sanctions on Russia won’t include oil and gas, because Europe is dependent on the supply.”

WTI for May delivery rose 6 cents to $101.73 a barrel at 12:12 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The volume of all futures traded was 29 percent below the 100-day average. Futures are down 0.8 percent this month and up 3.4 percent this quarter.

Brent for May settlement declined 6 cents to $108.01 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices are down 1 percent this month and 2.5 percent this quarter.

Volume was 23 percent below the 100-day average. The European benchmark crude was at a $6.28 premium to WTI.

Massed troops

At the meeting with Kerry on Sunday, Lavrov said Ukraine should devolve power to give its regions more autonomy and ensure minority rights.

Kerry expressed U.S. concerns that what it estimates to be 40,000 troops massing on Ukraine’s eastern border may signal Russia is ready to invade its neighbor.

“There are going to be more diplomatic talks to try to solve the crisis,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn. “The geopolitical factor is diminishing.”

Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Crimea on Monday in the first visit by a top government official since his country annexed the Black Sea peninsula.

President Vladimir Putin has justified Russia’s takeover of Crimea as righting a historical wrong that split the region off from Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The U.S. and European Union have imposed asset freezes and visa bans on Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean individuals.

Crude output by the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries slipped by 117,000 barrels a day in March to an average 30.293 million, a Bloomberg survey showed. The decrease was led by Angolan and Libyan declines.

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