SEOUL, Feb 3 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures fell in early Asian trade on Monday on concerns over oil demand after factory growth in China, the world’s No. 2 oil consumer, eased in January to a six-month low.
U.S. oil lost 31 cents to $97.18 a barrel by 0021 GMT in thin trade with Chinese markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday. It settled 74 cents down at $97.49 on Friday.
* Brent crude eased 20 cents to $106.20 from Friday’s close. For the month of January, it ended 4 percent lower, the biggest monthly percentage decline since September.
* China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dipped to 50.5 in January from December’s 51, in line with market expectations, hurt by weaker local and foreign demand, a survey showed, a soft start for the year that heightens worries of an economic slowdown.
* The week ahead has plenty of event risk with a raft of global business surveys and jobs data from the United States to offer a clearer view on how well the global economy is faring, while the European Central Bank (ECB) might well ease at its meeting on Thursday.
* Increases in supply also pressured Brent. OPEC’s oil output rose in January from December’s 2-1/2-year low, due to a partial recovery in Libyan supply and higher shipments from Iraq and Iran, according to a Reuters survey.
* Crude exports from Iraq declined in January to an average of 2.228 million barrels per day (bpd) but should rise next month, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said on Saturday.
* In Yemen, armed tribesmen bombed the country’s main oil pipeline on Saturday, halting crude flow to its main export terminal less than a month after it was repaired, oil and local officials said.
* In a sign of the thawing climate between Iran and the West, Iran’s foreign minister held rare private talks with his U.S. counterpart on Sunday during a three-day security conference in Munich and said it would be a “disaster” if Tehran did not turn a provisional agreement to defuse a decade-old dispute over its nuclear programme into a permanent deal.
* Asian shares look set for another trying week as strains in emerging markets show little sign of abating, while growing pressure for another policy easing in Europe shoved the euro to 10-week lows.
* Early Monday, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 percent with the Australian bourse off 0.5 percent Nikkei futures were also pointing to a soft opening for Tokyo shares.
* The prospect of a further easing in Europe has also weighed on the single currency, pinning it at a 10-week low of $1.3477 on Monday following a break of major support at $1.3506. The dollar was stuck at 102.18 yen and threatening recent lows, and major support, around 101.77/85.
* The following data is expected on Monday: (Time in GMT)
0843 Italy Markit/ADACI Manufacturing PMI
0848 France Markit Manufacturing PMI
0853 Germany Markit/BME Manufacturing PMI
0858 Euro zone Markit Manufacturing PMI
1358 U.S. Final Markit Manufacturing PMI
1500 U.S. Construction spending
1500 U.S. ISM Manufacturing PMI
Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Richard Pullin