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Brent futures remained untouched today, trading above $109 a barrel after Chinese data showed a downturn in manufacturing activities. However, any losses were kept in check by the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Brent crude was at $109.20 a barrel, while US oil fell by 22 cents to settle at $101.54 a barrel, reported Reuters.

Ukraine’s acting President Oleksander Turchinov has ordered a relaunch of an offensive against pro-Russian rebels in the east.

In addition, oil prices were underpinned by slower than expected growth in US stockpiles last week.

A report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed that crude inventories rose by 519,000 barrels in the week ending 18 April, compared with an expected 2.3 million barrel increase. Gasoline stocks fell by 3.4 million barrels against the anticipated 1.7 million barrel decline.

"Investors are also aware of the progress that Libya is making in ramping up its exports."

Due for release later today, the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) stockpile report will provide a clearer picture on the country’s demand outlook.

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Investors are also aware of the progress that Libya is making in ramping up its exports.

A spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) said that oil production in the country now stands at around 220,000bpd, as several western oilfields remain closed due to protests.

The US benchmark is receiving some support from housing data. In March, homes resale volume fell to an 18-month low, while there were signs that a recent downward trend may come to an end.

Image: Brent holds above $109 a barrel. Photo: courtesy of Rawich at