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NYMEX-Oil gives back some gains from small stockpile build

TOKYO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil dipped early on Thursday after rising the previous day when the contract was supported by a surprisingly small build in crude inventories.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude futures for April delivery were down 28 cents at $102.31 a barrel by 0000 GMT, after finishing 76 cents higher on Wednesday.

* Brent crude finished a cent higher at $109.52 a barrel on Wednesday.

* U.S. gasoline inventories fell much more than expected last week as mild weather coaxed more drivers back on the roads, while crude stockpiles rose only slightly, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Wednesday.

* Crude stocks rose overall by just 68,000 barrels last week, according to the EIA report, far less than the average build of 1.2 million barrels forecast.

* Iran's oil exports have risen further in February for a fourth consecutive month, according to sources who track tanker movements, adding to signs that the easing of sanctions pressure on Tehran is helping its oil exports to recover.

* Sales of new U.S. single-family homes surged to a 5-1/2-year high in January, but the bounce was likely to be short-lived amid signs of a broader weakness in the housing market.

MARKETS NEWS

* The U.S. dollar held near two-week highs against a basket of major currencies early on Thursday, after rallying overnight even as U.S. Treasury yields fell further.

* U.S. stocks finished flat on Wednesday with investors hesitant to make a big move on the day before comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, though retailers' shares rallied on results for a second day.

* The 19-commodity Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB index was barely changed on Wednesday after a mixed performance across the complex.

DATA/EVENTS

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

DATA (GMT)

0700 Germany Import prices

0855 Germany Unemployment rate

0900 Euro zone M3 money supply

1000 Euro zone Economic sentiment

1300 Germany Consumer inflation

1330 U.S. Durable goods orders

1330 U.S. Weekly jobless claims

(Reporting by James Topham; Editing by Richard Pullin)