Futures Movers: Oil prices rise ahead of new round of Russia sanctions

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Oil futures rose Wednesday, with the U.S. and other nations set to announce further sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Price action
Market drivers

The U.S., along with other Group of Seven countries and the European Union were set Wednesday to announce new sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, after evidence of alleged war crimes emerged as Russian forces pulled back from the area around Kyiv. The EU, however, has held off on joining the U.S. and U.K. in banning Russian oil imports.

EU officials, however, have indicated that talk of a phaseout of Russian oil and natural gas was likely to increase.

“I think that measures on oil and even gas will also be needed sooner or later,” Charles Michel, president of the European Council, told the European Parliament on Wednesday, news reports said.

The EU is “keeping this sharpest sword in its armory of sanctions in reserve for now,” said Carsten Fritsch, commodity analyst at Commerzbank.

“Whether it is drawn will depend in part on how swiftly the EU countries can reduce their dependence on Russian oil and gas. This will probably be easier in the case of oil,” he wrote. “What is more, banning oil imports would hit Russia considerably harder in terms of revenues than doing without natural gas. It is therefore likely that an oil embargo will come sooner than an import ban on natural gas.”

Top U.S. oil company executives will be in the spotlight Wednesday, appearing at a House hearing on gasoline price gouging.

Read: Why U.S. motorists suspect price gouging at the pump — and how much service stations actually profit from a gallon of gas

Supply data

The American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday that U.S. crude supplies rose by 1.1 million barrels for the week ended April 1, according to sources. The API also reportedly showed a weekly inventory decline of 543,000 barrels for gasoline, but distillate stockpiles rose by 593,000 barrels.

Inventories at the Cushing, Okla., delivery hub were up by 1.8 million barrels last week, sources said.

More closely followed inventory data from the Energy Information Administration will be released Wednesday. On average, the EIA is expected to show crude inventories down by more than 1.85 million barrels for the week, according to analysts polled by S&P Global Commodity Insights. The survey also showed expectations for weekly supply declines of 350,000 barrels for gasoline and 700,000 barrels for distillates.