The price of oil slipped to near $104 a barrel Monday after preliminary results showed a billionaire businessman winning a clear majority in Ukraine's presidential elections.
By mid-afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for July delivery was down 27 cents to $104.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the Nymex contract rose 61 cents to settle at $104.35, bringing its weekly gain to $2.33.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 60 cents to $109.94 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko, who supports close ties with Europe but also wants to mend relations with Russia, was leading the Ukrainian elections with about 54 percent of the votes when 75 percent of the precincts were counted Monday. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was second with 13 percent. If those results hold, Poroshenko would avoid a runoff election next month.
Oil prices have been underpinned by the threat of expanded Western sanctions over Russia's role in the crisis in Ukraine, which is a key conduit for Russian gas deliveries to Europe. While Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday his country would respect the outcome of the vote, there was still plenty of uncertainty.
Poroshenko's victory "is being interpreted as a sign of the conflict easing, prompting some market participants to take profits," said analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "All the same, it is doubtful whether the pro-Russian separatists in the renegade provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk will recognize the newly elected president."
"The ongoing lack of stability in eastern Ukraine and the continuing production outages in Libya are likely to preclude any sharper fall in prices," Commerzbank concluded.
Trading in energy futures will be thinner than usual as markets are closed on Monday in the U.S. and Britain.
In other energy futures trading in New York.
- Wholesale gasoline was down 0.1 cent to $3.0135 a gallon.
- Natural gas lost 1.1 cents to $4.394 per 1,000 cubic feet.
- Heating oil fell 1.45 cents to $2.9404 a gallon.