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UPDATE 7-Brent steady, dips into contango amid ample supplies

Anna Louie Sussman
Monday, 4 Nov 2013 | 1:01 PM ET

* Brent steadies after heavy losses in previous session

* Prompt Brent contract in contango, first time since June

(Updates prices, changes byline, dateline, pvs LONDON)

NEW YORK, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Brent crude futures seesawed on Monday in choppy trading, hitting a four-month low on weaker-than-expected U.S. economic data and expectations of another build in U.S. oil inventories.

New orders of non-military capital goods other than aircraft, an indicator of business spending plans, fell 1.3 percent in September, the Commerce Department said.

Brent futures for delivery next month briefly fell below the January contract <LCOc1-LCOc2>, excluding contract expiry days, going into contango for the first time since June.

"The overall view of the oil market is bearish. You have abundant supply, especially in the United States, a strong U.S. dollar and geopolitical risks have been pushed back for the moment," said Carsten Fritsch, an oil analyst at Commerzbank.

Brent for December rose 18 cents to $106.09 per barrel by 12:54 p.m. EST (1754 GMT) after hitting a four-month low of $105.13 a barrel earlier in the session. Brent dropped $3 on Friday.

U.S. crude for December gained 8 cents to $94.69 a barrel after ending $1.77 lower on Friday.

Traders and analysts said they were expecting a sixth straight build in U.S. crude stockpiles. The front-month U.S. crude contract, which has been in contango for over two weeks, found some technical support on Monday.

Stephen Schork, editor of the Schork Report in Villanova, Pennsylvania, said the market was at a "critical juncture" right now, having taken out a key technical support level of $94.76 for U.S. crude in the most recent session.

"That tends to be a popular support level, and we really seem to be fluctuating right around that number right now."

Commerzbank slashed its 2014 price forecast for Brent by $9 to $106 a barrel, saying the global oil market should remain amply supplied next year.

Bearish sentiment was also reflected by a report from the Intercontinental Exchange that hedge funds and other large speculators had reduced their bets on rising Brent prices for the eighth time in nine weeks in the seven days to Oct. 29.

Fund bets on rising Brent prices have almost halved to 119,451 net long positions, the equivalent on paper of almost 120 million barrels of oil, since hitting a peak of 231,962 net long positions in late August, when Brent was close to $117.

LIBYAN TENSIONS SUPPORT

Tensions in major exporter Libya provided support for oil as leaders of an autonomy movement in the country's oil-rich east unilaterally declared a regional government on Sunday.

Strikes at ports and oilfields have slashed crude production to about 10 percent of Libya's capacity of 1.25 million barrels per day.

U.S. oil has been pressured by inventory data from the Energy Information Administration pointing to healthy stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for the U.S. futures contract.

(Additional reporting by Alexander Winning and David Sheppard in London and Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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