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NYMEX-U.S. oil falls back under $99 as investors take profits

Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 | 8:03 PM ET

SINGAPORE Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. oil futures lost ground on Friday as investors took profits following gains the session before, when refinery strikes in France boosted European demand for distillate imports.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude for February delivery had dropped 34 cents to $98.70 a barrel by 0036 GMT, down from Thursday's close of $99.04 a barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 1 percent on Thursday, surging through the 200-day moving average of $98.78 for the first time in a week.

* February Brent crude (LCOc1) closed at $110.29 per barrel on Thursday, up 63 cents from the day before, after demand was buoyed by continued production outages in Libya.

* Striking workers in France closed a fourth Total refinery on Thursday, increasing the amount of shuttered capacity to up to 843,000 barrels per day (bpd).

* U.S. demand for petroleum products rose to 19.4 million barrels per day, up 4.9 percent year-on-year, and the highest November level in six years, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed on Thursday.

* Iran and six world powers resumed expert-level talks in Geneva on Thursday to work out how to implement a landmark deal obliging Tehran to curb its nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions.

* Libya is stepping up fuel imports as the OPEC producer's second-largest refinery at Zawiya runs at only half-capacity due to oilfield strikes, a refinery official said.

MARKETS NEWS

* Asian stocks got off to a cautious start on Friday tracking a more circumspect session on Wall Street overnight, as investors reassessed the Federal Reserve's policy outlook following its decision this week to start tapering its massive stimulus.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Friday:

- 0700 GMT Germany GfK consumer sentiment

- 0700 GMT Germany producer prices

- 0745 GMT France business climate

- 1330 GMT U.S. final Q3 GDP

- 1500 GMT Euro zone consumer confidence

(Reporting by Keith Wallis; Editing by Joseph Radford)