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UPDATE 3-Oil holds below $109 on weaker demand growth outlook
* Major forecasters point to subdued oil demand growth
* China must focus on inflation -central bank head
* Coming Up: U.S. weekly jobless claims; 1230 GMT (Previous SINGAPORE, updates prices)
LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - Oil stayed below $109 a barrel on Thursday, weighed by a subdued outlook for demand growth in top consumers the United States and China, while a firm dollar added pressure on prices.
Two of the three most closely watched oil forecasters - the International Energy Agency and U.S. government's Energy Information Administration - lowered global oil demand growth forecasts this week. The third, OPEC, flagged downside risks to the outlook.
Brent crude gained 36 cents to $108.88 a barrel by 1017 GMT. The global benchmark fell for the last four sessions. U.S. oil gained 17 cents to $92.69, after sliding to $92.18.
"The IEA's report noted a subdued rate of growth in demand and that is probably weighing," said Natalie Rampono, commodity strategist at ANZ in Melbourne. "But what the market is trying to focus on is China's tightening policy. A lot of people have been pricing in a strong pick-up in oil demand from China this year and some of those expectations may be pared back."
Comments by China's central bank on stabilising inflation expectations reinforced concern it may drop its pro-growth policy before economic expansion gathers full momentum. The remarks pressured oil and most other markets in Asia.
Supply concerns have taken a back seat for now. U.S. crude stockpiles rose last week, a government report said on Wednesday, and OPEC production is expected to trend higher in coming months as Saudi Arabia adds to supplies.
OPEC's top producer cut back its output sharply in the last two months of 2012 because of factors including weaker Asian demand and a lower domestic need for crude in power plants.
"These factors will likely reverse heading into the summer," Morgan Stanley said in a report. "Coupled with other sources of demand, both seasonal and exogenous, we anticipate demand for Saudi crude will begin to increase in 2Q13 by up to 500,000-700,000 barrels per day."
Oil was also under pressure from a stronger U.S. dollar, which was near a seven-month high against a basket of currencies on Thursday. A stronger dollar can make oil more expensive for other currency holders. (Reporting by Manash Goswami, Ramya Venugopal and Alex Lawler; Editing by Stephen Nisbet)
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