Oil flat near $104 despite huge stock build

Oil rose one penny Wednesday as worries about upheaval in Ukraine canceled out a huge increase in U.S. oil supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery closed at $103.76 a barrel in New York.
Brent crude for June delivery, a benchmark for international varieties of crude, closed at $109.36 in London. The May contract expired Tuesday at $108.74.

U.S. oil rose to nearly $105 per barrel in morning trading, but fell after the Energy Department’s weekly supply report showed an increase of 10 million barrels, the largest in 13 years, on higher domestic production and imports.

More concerns about that Russia’s response to the upheaval in the Ukraine cushioned the price drop. Traders worry that Russia’s actions could be met with sanctions that disrupt exports of the country’s oil and gas.

Officials from the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and the European Union are set to meet in Geneva on Thursday for negotiations aimed at persuading Russia to back off in Ukraine following its annexation of Crimea.

“The increasing tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine could provide further upside momentum to the oil market, supporting crude oil prices higher,” said Myrto Sokou of Sucden Financial Research in London.

The average U.S. retail price of gasoline rose one cent to $3.65 per gallon. The average typically rises in late winter and early spring as refiners close for maintenance and switch to making more expensive summer blends of gasoline. The price is up 13 cents from a month ago.

In Houston Wednesday, the average was $3.458 a gallon, up from $3.453 Tuesday.

In other energy futures trading in new York:
— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.1 cent to close at $3.041 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 3.7 cents to close at $4.530 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil gained 2.4 cents to close at $3.011 a gallon.