Brent steady above $107, China, US data spur demand hopes

Sun Dec 9, 2012 9:33pm EST

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By Manash Goswami

SINGAPORE, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Brent crude futures held above $107 a barrel on Monday, snapping five straight days of losses, as promising data out of the world's top two oil consumers revived demand growth hopes in a well-supplied market.

A better U.S. jobs data and a rebound in China's factory output pushed Asian shares, base metals and other riskier assets higher, with oil getting additional support from a rise in China's refinery runs to a record.

Investors are now waiting for more data from China due later in the day for further evidence of a sustained recovery in the world's second-biggest economy.

Brent gained 44 cents to $107.46 a barrel by 0205 GMT, ending its longest losing streak since early November. Brent shed almost 4 percent in the previous week. U.S. oil gained 30 cents to $86.23 a barrel.

"Investors are slightly more optimistic about China's economic recovery than before and that is supportive for oil," said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan. "But ample supplies of crude and an overall uncertainty about the global economy is putting pressure on prices."

Hasegawa expects both the contracts to trade in a tight range, with Brent between $106.50-$108 a barrel over the next two days and U.S. crude between $85.50-$87.

Growth in China's factory output and retail sales jumped to eight-month highs in November as consumer inflation bounced off 33-month lows, and analysts said the data showed the country is enjoying an enviable mix of benign inflation and rebounding economic growth.

Refinery runs in the country rose 9.1 percent 41.61 million tonnes, or 10.125 million barrels per day (bpd), from a year earlier as companies started new refining units and demand started to recover modestly.

The data followed numbers out of the United States that showed the unemployment rate fell to a near four-year low of 7.7 percent, defying predictions that Superstorm Sandy would deal a big blow to the labour market. (Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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