Brent hovers near $107.50 ahead of U.S. data

Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:43pm EDT

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* U.S., EU impose more sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

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* Coming up: EIA weekly oil data; 1430 GMT

By Theodora D'cruz and Florence Tan

SINGAPORE, July 30 (Reuters) - Brent crude hovered in a tight range near $107.50 a barrel on Wednesday as investors eyed U.S. data and policy decision from the Federal Reserve for more price direction.

Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, Africa and Europe continued to underpin prices, although so far there has been no major disruption to oil supplies.

Brent crude, which has been trading between $106-$109 over the past two weeks, slipped 18 cents to $107.54 a barrel by 0324 GMT on Wednesday. U.S. crude rose 15 cents to $101.12 a barrel.

"Hopefully we'll get some action tonight or from what's coming up this Friday," said Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Ayers Alliance Securities in Sydney.

He added that if the U.S. economy requires less stimulus, that could translate into more demand for oil and lift prices.

The Fed is expected to cut its monthly bond-buying program by another $10 billion and its policy statement, together with key jobs data on Friday, could provide some hints on how well the world's largest economy is doing.

"I do feel that $106.50-$107.50 is a very good support for Brent and we really need some definition to see a break through these levels," Barratt said.

Investors took news of further sanctions by the European Union and the United States against Russia in stride, while waiting to see how President Vladimir Putin would react.

The latest sanctions which cover the energy sector may slow down oil exports from Russia, said Yusuke Seta, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan.

Continued fighting in the Middle East and Africa hotspots supported oil prices.

Israel intensified its assault on Gaza although conflicts in OPEC producers Iraq and Libya have yet to impact oil production.

Libya has kept its oil output at around 500,000 barrels per day despite escalating violence in Tripoli, an official from the Libyan Oil Ministry said on Tuesday.

In the United States, industry data showing a bigger-than-expected fall in crude inventories offset the impact on oil prices from a refinery fire.

U.S. crude fell on Tuesday after a fire broke out at a unit that upgrades gasoline at CVR Refining's 115,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Coffeyville, Kansas, a major consumer of West Texas Intermediate crude.

Data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed that crude inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels in the week to July 25 to 369.4 million, versus analysts' expectations for a drop of 1.5 million barrels.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release its own weekly petroleum stockpiles data later on Wednesday. (Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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