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UPDATE 5-Oil slips to $111 as European demand eases

Christopher Johnson
Monday, 9 Dec 2013 | 8:01 AM ET

* Robust China trade data brightens outlook for demand

* Chinese crude oil imports up in November

* Brent futures curve flattens as prompt demand falters

* U.S. jobs data stokes concerns Fed will curb stimulus soon

* Coming up: U.S. employment trends data at 1500 GMT

(Adds detail, comment, prices; paragraphs 1-7; edits)

LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil slipped to around $111 a barrel on Monday, undermined by signs of weaker European demand despite upbeat economic data from the United States and China, the world's two biggest oil consumers.

Brent futures fell almost 1 percent, down $1.06 a barrel to a low of $110.55 before recovering to trade around $111.00 by 1240 GMT, still below Friday's close at $111.61. The loss followed a rise of more than 1.7 percent for Brent last week.

U.S. crude was unchanged at $97.65, after ending Friday with its largest weekly percentage gain since July 5.

"Brent faces some weakness with selling in the physical market," VTB Capital oil strategist Andrey Kryuchenkov said. "But it continues to draw support from bullish macro sentiment following decent U.S. payrolls figures and strong trade data from China."

The Brent futures premium for January over February narrowed to a low of 26 cents from a high of 46 cents on Friday, mirroring weakness in physical over-the-counter trades at a time of much weaker European refinery demand, analysts said.

"Refining margins outside the United States are poor, and product curve structure has weakened across the globe," Morgan Stanley analysts, led by Adam Longson, said in a report.

But oil was supported by signs of accelerating global growth, with positive data from the United States and China.

Chinese trade figures on Sunday showed exports well above forecasts in November, rising 12.7 percent from a year earlier, while imports up 5.3 percent added to recent signs that economic growth is stabilising.

Crude imports by China, the world's second-largest consumer, reached 23.56 million tonnes in November, or 5.73 million barrels per day (bpd), up 19.1 percent from the previous month on a daily basis.

U.S. data on Friday showed the jobless rate fell last month to its lowest since November 2008, fuelling speculation that the Federal Reserve might act when it holds its next policy meeting on Dec. 17-18.

Weather-related oil production losses also provided some price support. North Sea oil producers cut output and moved staff from some platforms as a major storm blasted toward mainland Europe in what meteorologists warned could be the worst weather to hit the continent in years.

"Potential North Sea production cuts due to severe weather in Europe could see Brent perform better this week," analysts at ANZ said in a note. Brent rose 1.7 percent last week.

Cold weather also dented oil and gas production in the United States and could further crimp output in top crude-producing states, such as Texas and North Dakota.

(Additional reporting by Manash Goswami and Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; Editing by Anthony Barker)