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Oil inches up as Ukraine rebels escalate conflict

AP-- The price of oil edged higher Tuesday on worries over potential supply disruptions after pro-Russian rebels escalated the Ukrainian conflict by occupying a major airport, just hours after a billionaire businessman won Ukraine's presidential election.

Benchmark crude for July delivery was up 5 cents to US$104.40 a barrel at 0625 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Due to a U.S. public holiday, the contract last settled on Friday, when it closed at US$104.35.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, gained 41 cents to US$110.73 on the ICE exchange in London.

Ukraine is a key conduit for Russian gas deliveries to Europe. A proposed solution to a dispute over Ukrainian natural gas debts to Moscow raised hopes that a supply cutoff would be averted. Russia's acceptance of Poroshenko's victory was also regarded as a sign of easing tensions.

The resurgence of fighting, as the government in Kiev responded with an airstrike to the rebels' occupation of the airport in Donetsk, a city of about 1 million in eastern Ukraine, underscored the uncertainties that remain.

In other energy futures trading in New York.

— Wholesale gasoline was down 0.2 cents at US$3.005 a gallon.

— Natural gas shed 1.5 cents to US$4.39 per 1,000 cubic feet.

— Heating oil gained 1 cent to US$2.965 a gallon.

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