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Oil little changed ahead of US data, holiday

Oil prices were little changed Friday ahead of U.S. home sales data and the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Benchmark U.S. crude for July delivery was up 3 cents to US$103.71 a barrel at 0800 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract fell 33 cents to close Thursday at US$103.74.

Traders are waiting for a U.S. Commerce Department report on sales of new homes in April, expected later Friday, which may show a healthy American economy.

That could help lift energy prices.

Oil reached a one-month high Wednesday of US$104.07 a barrel after a U.S. Energy Information Administration report showed that U.S. crude supplies dropped a bigger-than-expected 7.2 million barrels in the week ended May 16.

Tensions are continuing in the Ukraine, where on Thursday the deadliest raid yet on Ukrainian troops by pro-Russia insurgents killed 16 soldiers.

The possibility of greater Western sanctions against Russia for its role in the crisis has underpinned oil prices.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, added 2 cents to US$110.35 on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading in New York.

— Wholesale gasoline was little changed at US$2.989 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 1.6 cents to US$4.375 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil inched up 0.2 cents to US$2.952 a gallon.

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