NYMEX crude oil down in Asia on profit taking

Crude oil futures lost ground early in Asia on Tuesday on profit taking after a long weekend that saw continued tension between the West and Russia over events in the Ukraine.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in June traded at $103.48 a barrrel, down 0.16%, after hittting an overnight session low of $102.97 a barrel and a high of $103.82 a barrel.

The global Brent contract for June delivery settled 42 cents, or 0.4%, higher at $109.95 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Overnight, crude futures rose on Monday after a forward-looking U.S. economic indicator beat expectations, while ongoing concerns the Ukraine crisis will escalate and disrupt Russian oil exports also supported the commodity albeit in choppy trading.

In the U.S. earlier, the Conference Board reported earlier that its index of leading indicators, which measures future economic activity, increased 0.8% in March after a 0.5% rise in February, beating expectations for a 0.7% reading.

Elsewhere, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index decreased to 0.20 in March from 0.53 in February, in line with expectations.

The numbers sent oil prices climbing, as a more robust U.S. economy should demand more fuel and energy.

Unease over the fate of Ukraine supported prices as well.

Russia, Ukraine and the West agreed to terms to end violence in Eastern Ukraine recently, though fears the deal could unravel brewed in energy markets, as a weekend attack on a checkpoint manned by separatists killed three.

Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia.