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NYMEX-U.S. crude higher as cold weather threatens supply

Monday, 6 Jan 2014 | 7:34 PM ET

SINGAPORE, Jan 7 (Reuters) - U.S. oil futures rose in early Asian trading after five consecutive sessions of losses, as investors weigh mixed signals from Libya, while cold weather across the central United States threatened production.

Expectations of more Libyan supply could push prices lower, but an escalation of months-long civil unrest in the African country could provide a floor under the market.

On Monday, Libya's navy opened fire after a Maltese-flagged oil tanker approached to illegally load crude at a port that has been controlled for months by armed protesters demanding more autonomy from Tripoli.

Severe cold weather sweeping across the central United States is threatening to curtail some oil production, but may also curb demand for gasoline.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude for February delivery rose 30 cents to $93.73 a barrel by 0022 GMT, after settling 53 cents lower on Monday.

* U.S. commercial crude oil inventories likely rose 2.2 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 3 after near-record five-week declines, a preliminary Reuters poll of analysts showed on Monday.

* OPEC's oil output averaged 29.53 million barrels per day in December, falling to the lowest since May 2011, a Reuters survey found, due to strikes and protests in Libya, stagnation in Iraqi exports and a further reduction in Saudi Arabian supply.

MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares stabilised on Tuesday after four straight days of losses, while the dollar was on the defensive after disappointing U.S. services sector data raised concerns about stuttering growth in the world's largest economy.

* MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat, having fallen 2.3 percent in the previous four sessions.

* Data from the Institute for Supply Management showed the pace of growth in the U.S. services sector slowed for a second straight month in December with business activity expanding at a lower rate and new orders contracting.

* U.S. private sector economic activity growth slowed slightly in December, financial data firm Markit said its composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI).

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Tuesday:

0855 - German unemployment for December

1000 - Euro zone inflation for December

(Reporting By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Richard Pullin)