NYMEX crude oil prices lower in Asia on profit taking

Crude oil prices fell in Asia Thursday on profit taking after overnight gains of growing tensions between the Ukraine and Russia.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in May traded at $103.40 a barrel, down 0.20%, after hitting an overnight session low of $102.05 a barrel and a high of $103.43 a barrel.

Brent crude on ICE Futures Europe added 31 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $107.98 a barrel on Wednesday.

Geopolitical tensions continued to boost oil prices as Ukraine's government stood toe-to-toe with pro-Russian demonstrations in the east of the country.

Russia has warned that use of force against the separatists could drag the country into civil war, and saber-rattling sent oil prices rising on concerns tensions could affect Russian oil shipments.

Russia has downplayed concerns in the Europe and in the U.S. that its troops amassed along the Ukraine border may destabilize the region, while the U.S. insists Russian agents are stirring up trouble in pro-Moscow portions of eastern Ukraine.

Geopolitical concerns offset a bearish U.S. inventory report.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 4.03 million barrels in the week ended April 4, surpassing expectations for a build of 1.3 million barrels.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 384.1 million barrels as of last week.

The EIA said total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 5.18 million barrels, compared to forecasts for a decline of 0.72 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles increased by 0.23 million barrels.

The report came one day after the American Petroleum Institute said U.S. oil inventories rose by 7.1 million barrels last week, well above expectations for an increase of 2.5 million barrels.

Investors were also tracking developments in Libya after government officials and rebels reached an agreement over the weekend to re-open the Zueitina and Hariga ports, which normally export a combined total of 200,000 barrels a day, mostly to Europe.