* Brent near a 2-1/2-month peak reached on Thursday
* U.S., Chinese data supports oil demand prospects
* Libya's Brega port shut by protesters
By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
SINGAPORE, May 23 Brent crude held steady above
$110 a barrel on Friday on track for a second weekly gain,
supported by conflicts in Libya and Ukraine as well as positive
economic data in the world's top oil consumers, the United
States and China.
A recent rally in oil prices, which pushed Brent to a
2-1/2-month peak just above $111 on Thursday, could gain further
momentum as Asian shares edged up to one-year highs on Friday on
signs of improving momentum in the world's biggest economies.
Brent crude was down 2 cents at $110.34 a barrel by
0325 GMT. The contract settled 19 cents lower on Thursday, after
touching a session high of $111.04, the highest since March 4.
U.S. crude gained 1 cent to $103.75 a barrel after
settling 33 cents lower, but was still on course for its third
weekly gain on the back of a steep drop in U.S. oil inventories
"Brent managed to break through its previous high of
$110.60, so I think there is scope for further gains over the
coming week," said Ken Hasegawa, commodity sales manager at
"But the contract faces solid resistance around $113 and
should begin to come back down again," he said.
The oil market was supported by signs of global economic
growth, with U.S. manufacturing growth picking up to a
three-month high in May, and China's factory sector turning in
its best performance this year in May.
"The world economy is slowly and gradually getting better,
but I don't see any rapid growth in oil demand," said Hasegawa.
"Brent has been trading within the $105 and $113 range, and
I don't see any dramatic changes to the fundamentals," he said.
LIBYA PORT SHUT
Oil prices were also supported by new supply disruptions in
Libya. Protesters shut the headquarters of the company running
the Brega oil port, the only eastern port to have remained open
throughout most of the nine month stand-off with a rebel group,
state news agency LANA said on Thursday.
Libya's oil output was around 230,000 bpd on Wednesday, but
the exact production level remained unclear on Friday.
Investors also kept an eye on the ongoing conflict in
Ukraine - a main gas supply route for Europe from Russia - where
presidential elections are scheduled for Sunday.
Ukraine said more than a dozen servicemen were killed on
Thursday in an early morning clash with pro-Russian separatists,
fuelling security concerns ahead Sunday's election.
Little data was due ahead of the U.S. Memorial Day weekend.
Floor trading will be closed on Monday and there will be no
settlement on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
(Reporting By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Richard