* Trading light due to Chinese New Year holidays
* China demand data continues to support
By Rebekah Kebede
PERTH, Feb 11 Brent oil futures dipped slightly
in Asia early on Monday in thin trading due to the Chinese New
Year holiday, but data showing stronger than expected demand
growth in China limited losses.
On Friday, Brent crude prices hit a nine-month high near
$119 per barrel after news that Chinese oil imports rose in
January to their third-highest daily rate on record.
The higher than expected oil imports were interpreted as a
sign of an accelerating economic rebound in the world's
second-biggest oil consumer.
"(Oil price gains) are happening against a backdrop of an
overall moderate improvement in world economic growth outlook
and demand," Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in
Brent dipped 5 cents to $118.85 per barrel by 0400
GMT, after reaching $119.17 per barrel on Friday, the highest
U.S. crude futures dipped 2 cents to $95.70 per barrel.
Traders will be closely watching U.S. retail sales and
industrial production figures due out later this week for
further indications of economic growth in the world's largest
economy, Spooner said.
With many Asian markets shut for Chinese New Year, however,
analysts said they expected trade to be relatively light this
Oil markets could get some support from stormy weather in
the heavily-populated U.S. Northeast, where a blizzard dumped up
to 40 inches (1 meter) of snow with hurricane force winds,
leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.
Washington and Tehran may have more time to negotiate around
Iran's disputed nuclear programme after news that Iran appears
to have resumed converting small amounts of its higher-grade
enriched uranium into reactor fuel.
Slowing a growth in stockpiles of material that could be
used to make weapons is one of the few ways in which the nuclear
dispute could avoid hitting a crisis by the summer.
The ongoing nuclear dispute has sparked supply worries for
years. Iran has threatened to block oil shipments through the
Strait of Hormuz in the event it is attacked. Some 40 percent of
the world's globally traded oil passes through the Strait of
(Editing by Richard Pullin)