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Ukrainian escalation keeps oil firm

Brent finished 0.61% higher at $93.54 and WTI with an April expiry finished 0.18% higher at $90.21.

Left to fall back sharply, oil prices finally held firm on Friday, supported by the escalation in the Ukrainian crisis, a war risking weighing on the supply of black gold.

The price of a barrel of Brent from the North Sea for delivery in April, the most traded in London, gained 0.61% to 93.54 dollars.

In New York, the barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), with maturity in March, dropped 0.75% to close at 91.07 dollars, for its last day of use as a benchmark contract.

But the April contract, which on Friday concentrated five times the volume of that of March, ended up slightly up 0.18% at 90.21 dollars.

The courses had started the session in sharp decline, the Brent even threatening to go back below the symbolic threshold of 90 dollars, put under pressure by the prospect of a possible agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.

According to the Reuters agency, the draft agreement currently on the table, however, does not provide for the restoration of oil exports by Iran until a second stage, which would push back to several months the prospect of seeing Iranian barrels relieve the market.

Prices then rebounded in line with news from Ukraine, including more clashes between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army in the east of the country.

According to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Russian troops would be more numerous than ever on the outskirts of Ukraine and would approach the border.

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“The Ukrainian situation has completely diverted attention” from the market, which no longer has in mind “how tight the oil market is” if we hide this geopolitical file, argued, in a note, Edward Moya, analyst of Oanda.

Despite a strong oscillation during the session, prices ultimately changed little, with operators nevertheless positioning themselves on the rise. “You would think that people would not bet on a drop before starting the holiday weekend,” said Matt Smith, head of oil analysis at Kpler.

The American markets will indeed be closed on Monday, a public holiday in the United States (Presidents’ Day).

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