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NYMEX-Oil stays above $102, set for 6th weekly rise

SINGAPORE, Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. crude held above $102 a barrel on Friday, set for its sixth weekly rise, buoyed by strong heating demand in North America and as a new pipeline drained supply from the contract's delivery point in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The front-month price for U.S. crude touched the highest in four months earlier this week, although it has eased slightly on concerns about the state of the global economy following weak data from the United States and China.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude futures for April delivery nudged up 2 cents to $102.77 a barrel by 0042 GMT. The March contract that expired on Thursday closed at $102.92 a barrel, down 39 cents.

* Brent crude settled down 17 cents at $110.30 a barrel on Thursday.

* April Brent's premium to U.S. crude <CL-LCO1=R> settled 8 cents lower at $7.55, after narrowing to as much as $7.09 earlier in the session, its tightest since Oct. 9.

* U.S. crude oil stocks rose almost 1 million barrels to 362 million barrels and fell 1.73 million barrels at the Cushing storage hub, indicating ample supply flowing to the Gulf Coast, Energy Information Administration data showed on Thursday.

* The capital of South Sudan's main oil-producing region was divided between the army and rebels on Thursday after the worst fighting since a January ceasefire stoked jitters in global oil markets.

* A petroleum ministry official told Reuters oil production had fallen to about 170,000 barrels per day even before the rebel strike on Malakal, a fall of around a third.

* Venezuelan security forces and demonstrators faced off in streets blocked by burning barricades in several provincial cities on Thursday as protests escalated against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government.

* The oil industry hopes Norway will bring plenty of new oil onstream to help fix the Brent benchmark as other solutions - such as adding Russian or Nigerian crude to the North Sea mix - pose too many risks, executives and traders said.

* A unilateral U.S. oil embargo on Iran is expected to remain in place even if a long-term nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers is reached that includes an easing of international sanctions, a U.S. official said.

MARKETS NEWS

* U.S. stocks and the dollar rose on Thursday on data showing American factory activity accelerated in February at its fastest clip in nearly four years, but surveys showing a soft patch in China and parts of Europe dragged on global equity markets.

* Another month of slower factory activity in China and a sharp decline in a closely watched gauge of U.S. manufacturing on Thursday added to concern about the state of the global economy.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Friday: (Time in GMT)

1500 U.S. Existing home sales

(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Richard Pullin)