SEOUL, March 6 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures retreated to below $101 a barrel on Thursday in early Asian trade on expected weak demand during refinery maintenance season in the United States and Europe, while geopolitical risks over Ukraine eased.
* U.S. crude for April delivery lost 46 cents at $100.99 a barrel as of 0000 GMT after it ended the previous session $1.88 lower at $101.45.
* Brent oil for April delivery settled $1.54 lower at $107.76.
* U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose more than expected last week as imports increased and refinery output fell, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
* Crude oil inventories rose by 1.4 million barrels in the week ending Feb. 28, compared with analysts’ expectations for a build of 1.3 million barrels. Imports rose by 75,000 bpd and refinery utilization slipped 0.6 percent.
* U.S. oil refiners are expected to take 1,608,000 barrels per day (bpd) of capacity offline in the week ending March 7, up from 1,412,000 bpd the previous week, data from research company IIR showed on Wednesday.
* Foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia and Western nations agreed on Wednesday to continue discussions in coming days on how to stabilize Ukraine and presented a number of ideas for how to reach that goal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.
* Severe weather across much of the United States took a toll on shopping and consumer spending in recent weeks, leading to slower economic growth or outright contraction in some areas of the world’s largest economy, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.
* U.S. private employers added 139,000 jobs in February, shy of economists’ expectations, and gains in the previous month were revised lower, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.
* The falls in oil markets, meanwhile, are limited as Libya’s El Sharara oil field remains shut by an ongoing sit-in protest, the field’s manager said on Wednesday, adding there was no sign of production resuming.
* World markets were calm on Wednesday after two days of wild swings, with the United States and Russia set to hold talks on easing East-West tension in Ukraine.
* Wall Street shares finished little changed, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index finished just a hair below its record closing high set on Tuesday.
* Spot gold, a safe-haven asset that rose on the Russia-West tensions, gained 0.1 percent to $1,339.99 an ounce after dropping 1.2 percent on Tuesday.
* The following data is expected on Thursday: (Time in GMT)
1100 Germany Industrial orders
1200 Britain BOE Bank Rate
1245 Euro zone ECB refinancing rate
1330 ECB President Draghi holds news conference
1330 U.S. Weekly jobless claims