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Oil above USD108 on US supplies

Friday, January 03 10:55:19

Brent crude rallied above $108 a barrel today after posting its biggest daily percentage drop in six months in the previous session, although expectations for a rise in Libyan supply and speculation of a build-up in U.S. stockpiles capped gains.

By 0930 GMT Brent had risen 53 cents to $108.31, rebounding from a 2.7 percent drop on Thursday, the largest decline since late June.

U.S. crude was unchanged at $95.44 after earlier touching a one-month low of $95.13. On Thursday, the contract posted its biggest daily fall since November 2012.

"There was a very sharp fall yesterday," said oil analyst Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Zug, Switzerland. "We're seeing a little bit of a rebound, but it's still a relatively small move."

Investors are watching production in Libya, which has dropped to less than 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 1.4 million bpd in July.

Libya hopes to resume production at one of its largest oilfields, El Sharara in the west of the country, within three days after protesters agreed to suspend their two-month stoppage, officials said on Thursday.

An increase in oil exports from the OPEC member would boost supply and weigh on prices.

Petromatrix's Jakob said the prospect of an increase in Libyan oil exports was different to previous false starts because it was coming from the west of the country.

"What has really failed to materialise so far has been a restart in the east, where you have autonomy groups that are controlling the ports," Jakob said.

"In the west, it's a different situation because it was a protest at the field, but the port is actually open. If they restart production it can really move to the market."

Also weighing on prices was speculation that official U.S. weekly data, to be released at 1600 GMT on Friday, would show an increase in U.S. crude stocks.