* Weak U.S. dollar boosts commodities
* U.S. oil demand higher in September -API
* Coming up: EIA oil data for the week ended Oct. 11
By Jessica Jaganathan
SINGAPORE, Oct 21 Brent crude oil futures held
steady above $110 a barrel on Monday on hopes the U.S. Federal
Reserve would delay curbing its massive economic stimulus
programme until next year, which could help support oil demand
in the world's largest oil consumer.
Investors were also waiting for the release of U.S.
government oil data later in the day and U.S. September payrolls
data on Tuesday for further clues on the country's oil demand.
Brent crude futures for December delivery gained 10
cents to $110.04 a barrel by 0343 GMT. Last week, the contract
lost 1.2 percent, its first weekly loss in three.
U.S. crude oil futures for November delivery were up
3 cents to $100.84, after earlier rising as high as $100.95.
"The market's just in a wait-and-see mode ... The thing on
most traders' minds is what sort of story is going to be told by
the U.S. data now that it's going to be released again," said
Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.
Investors face a deluge of data this week as U.S. government
departments catch up after a 16-day shutdown.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release
weekly oil data for the week ended Oct. 11 later on Monday. Its
normal release schedule will resume after that, and oil data for
last week will be released on Wednesday.
"We had the U.S. government shutdown after most of the data
we're about to see, so even if it looks okay, people will be
factoring in the slowdown from the shutdown," Spooner said.
"If the data is weaker than expected then that would be
looked at as significant as it gives us a lower base running
into the government shutdown."
Oil prices were supported by a weaker U.S. dollar, which
fell to its lowest level since February on Friday on
expectations the Fed will have to delay scaling back its
stimulus following the U.S. government shutdown.
A weak dollar boosts oil and other commodities priced in the
greenback by making them cheaper for holders of other
U.S. OIL DEMAND RISES
Oil prices were also supported after data showing that oil
demand in the U.S. rose 2.7 percent in September compared with
year-ago levels due to the stronger economy and export demand,
according to American Petroleum Institute data.
This follows positive economic data from China, the world's
second largest oil consumer, where gross domestic product grew
7.8 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier.
Saudi Arabia increased its oil exports by 325,000 barrels a
day (bpd) in August from July to 7.795 million bpd, the latest
official data published by the Joint Data Initiative (JODI)
showed on Sunday.
The world's largest oil exporter produced 10.19 million bpd
of crude, up 156,000 bpd from July.