* Libyan rebels, government agree to gradually reopen
occupied oil ports
* U.S. employers hire at a brisk pace, shake off winter's
* Iran oil exports will be in line with sanctions target
* Brent to fall into $104.08-$104.90 range -technicals
By Manash Goswami
SINGAPORE, April 7 Brent crude prices fell below
$106 a barrel on Monday, snapping a two-day winning streak, as
worries about supply disruption eased after Libyan rebels
occupying four eastern oil ports agreed to gradually end their
eight-month old blockade.
A major advance for the north African exporter, the end to
the oil port standoff is taking some supply worries off the
market that helped push prices to a high of $112 for the year.
Investors are now waiting for details on the volume Libya
will start shipping, while also assessing U.S. gasoline demand
to gauge the outlook for oil.
Brent crude dropped 77 cents to $105.95 a barrel by
0425 GMT, after ending the week 1.3 percent lower. U.S. oil
declined 26 cents to $100.88, after posting its first
weekly loss in three.
"Oil, particularly Brent, will come under pressure only if
Libyan exports rise above 1 million barrels per day (bpd)," said
Tetsu Emori, a commodity fund manager at Astmax Investment. "If
they are less than that, the downside will be limited."
Libya's Zueitina and Hariga ports, held by federalist rebels
demanding more autonomy from Tripoli, will open immediately
while the larger ports, Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, will be freed in
two to four weeks after more talks.
Further losses in oil prices were, however, checked by data
showing strong jobs growth in the United States. The jobs number
added to a range of indicators from manufacturing and services
sector activity to automobile sales that have signalled strength
as the first quarter ended.
The promising economic indicators are boosting expectations
of strong gasoline sales as the world's top oil consumer, the
United States, enters the peak summer driving season.
"We might see oil holding around these levels because peak
winter demand has ended and the market is waiting to see what
the summer gasoline demand will be like," Emori said.
"The market wants to see if gasoline will offset the fall in
heating oil demand."
U.S. gasoline demand over the past four weeks was 3.8
percent higher than a year ago at 8.79 million bpd, the latest
Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. Gasoline stocks
fell 1.6 million barrels, compared with forecast
for a 1.1-million-barrel drop, data showed.
Investors are also watching the progress in talks between
world powers and Iran on the Islamic Republic's nuclear
The United States dismissed suggestions that Iran was
exporting much more oil than it is allowed to sell under a
preliminary nuclear deal and predicted that aggregate Iranian
oil sales would meet targets set for Tehran.
The remarks from a senior U.S. official came ahead of a new
round of senior-level negotiations between Iran and the United
States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia in Vienna on
Brent is expected to fall into a range of $104.08-$104.90
per barrel, while U.S. oil is expected to retrace more into a
range of $100.15-$100.55, according to Reuters technical analyst
(Editing by Himani Sarkar)