* Many traders close positions ahead of July 4 holiday
* Easing U.S. output, drilling activity has supported market
* Rising OPEC production still weighs on prices
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, July 4 (Reuters) - Oil prices retreated in early Asian trade on Tuesday, halting a run of eight straight days of gains on signs that a relentless rise in U.S. crude production was running out of steam.
Brent crude futures were at $49.43 per barrel at 0147 GMT, down 25 cents, or 0.5 percent from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading down 22 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $46.85 a barrel.
The falls came after both benchmarks recovered around 12 percent from their recent lows on June 21.
Many traders closed positions ahead of the U.S. Independence Day holiday on July 4, while Brent also faced technical resistance as it approached $50 per barrel, traders said.
Despite this, market sentiment has shifted somewhat.
Late May and most of June were overwhelmingly bearish as U.S. output rose and doubts grew over the ablility of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to hold back enough production to tighten the market.
But sentiment began to shift towards the end of June, when U.S. data showed a dip in American oil output and a slight fall in drilling for new production. RIG-OL-USA-BHI C-OUT-T-EIA
ANZ bank said on Tuesday that the dips in U.S. production and drilling were “a small but significant shift in the dynamics in the oil market” and that this would take some pressure off OPEC’s struggling efforts to rein in oversupply.
OPEC is leading a bid to tighten oil markets by pledging to hold back around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in output between January this year and March 2018.
Its efforts have been undermined by rising output from Libya and Nigeria, who are exempt from the cuts, which helped push the group’s June output to a 2017 high of 32.57 million bpd, about 820,000 bpd above its supply target. (Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard Pullin)