* U.S. economic data supports views of growth rebound
* Asian stocks, dollar rise on optimism over U.S. economy
* Libya oil guards protest at Hariga port, disrupt
* U.S. crude oil, products inventories seen rising last week
By Manash Goswami
SINGAPORE, May 28 Brent futures rose on
Wednesday, holding above $110 a barrel on renewed optimism over
steady demand growth in the world's top oil consumer the United
States following healthy economic data, with supply disruption
concerns providing additional support.
Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods unexpectedly
rose and consumer confidence perked up, underpinning risk assets
and bolstering U.S. equity markets to another record close. Some
analysts see the sharp gains in shares possibly prompting more
profit-taking, however, and in turn dragging down oil.
Brent crude gained 24 cents to $110.26 at 0357 GMT
after ending 30 cents lower as some profits were booked
following a long holiday weekend. U.S. oil gained 2 cents
to $104.13 after losing 24 cents in the previous session.
"There are quite a few bullish factors in the oil market
that are supportive, we have good economic indicators and
uncertainty over Libya and Ukraine," said Tetsu Emori, a
commodity fund manager at Astmax Investment.
"But the U.S. equity market is too strong. My worry is if we
see some profit-taking in equities, oil may fall as well."
While the probability for a slide in oil is low, any fall
triggered by investors booking profits may see Brent declining
to $108.50 a barrel if the contract manages to drop past the
$110 and $109 levels, Emori said.
Similarly, a strong support level for the U.S. benchmark is
$101 if it slips below $103, he said.
Another record close for the S&P 500 overnight prompted
Asian stocks to rise on Wednesday, with the dollar near an
eight-week high against a basket of currencies.
"Oil is drawing support from factors that are outside of the
oil market," Emori said.
The overnight U.S. data is adding to gains in a market
already elevated by supply disruption worries in Libya and the
widening rift between Russia, the world's top oil producer, and
the West over Ukraine.
Ukrainian aircraft and paratroopers killed more than 50
pro-Moscow rebels in an assault that raged into a second day on
Tuesday after a newly elected president vowed to crush the
revolt in the east once and for all.
In Libya, a brigade from the country's Petroleum Facilities
Guard has been protesting and disrupting operations at the
Hariga port to demand salary payments. The protest was
interrupting work at the port, where full storage tanks have
forced a stoppage of production at Sarir oilfield and a
reduction at Messla oilfield.
Investors are also awaiting commercial stockpile data from
the United States to gauge the country's demand growth outlook.
U.S. commercial crude oil stocks and refined product
inventories were expected to have risen in the week to May 23, a
preliminary Reuters poll of five analysts showed.
The survey forecast crude oil stocks to have increased
700,000 barrels last week. The survey is taken ahead of weekly
inventory reports from the American Petroleum Institute (API),
an industry group, and from the U.S. Department of Energy's
Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The inventory reports are coming out a day later than normal
because of the U.S. holiday on Monday.
Helping to cap gains in oil are rising exports from key
Middle Eastern exporter Iraq.
Oil exports from its southern terminals are on track for a
record high in May, according to loading data and industry
sources. Shipments have averaged 2.60 million barrels per day
(bpd) in the first 27 days of May, according to shipping data
tracked by Reuters. Two industry sources, who also monitor the
exports, had a similar estimate.
(Reporting by Manash Goswami)