(Updates prices, adds Shell oil benchmark reform)
* Trading light due to Lunar New Year holidays
* China demand data continues to support
By Rebekah Kebede
PERTH, Feb 11 Brent oil futures dipped slightly
on Monday in trade thinned by the Lunar New Year holiday, but
stayed near a nine-month high near $119 a barrel, supported by
stronger than expected demand growth in China.
Brent crude prices hit the nine-month peak on Friday after
China's exports and imports broadly surged in January, with oil
imports rising to their third-highest daily rate on
"(Oil price gains) are happening against a backdrop of an
overall moderate improvement in world economic growth outlook
and demand," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC
Markets in Sydney.
Brent had dipped 10 cents to $118.80 per barrel by
0400 GMT, after reaching $119.17 per barrel on Friday, the
highest since May.
U.S. crude futures fell 11 cents to $95.61 per barrel.
Traders will be closely watching U.S. retail sales and
industrial production figures due later this week for further
indications of economic growth in the world's largest economy,
But with many Asian markets shut for Chinese New Year, trade
is likely to be light this week.
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 metre) of snow with hurricane force winds,
leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.
Beginning Monday, new terms of delivery for North Sea crude
cargoes will come into effect after Royal Dutch Shell
unilaterally amended the terms for cargoes with a May 2013 or
The terms set the basis of billions of dollars of oil trade
worldwide and Shell said its amendments were an effort to
support trading liquidity.
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 and Joseph Radford)