NYMEX-US crude holds above $104.50 on Ukraine tension

SEOUL, March 4 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil held above $104.50 a barrel on Tuesday in early Asian trade, as the crisis in Ukraine raised concerns about a disruption of Russian natural gas supplies to Europe and heightened demand for alternative fuels such as heating oil.


* U.S. crude slipped 25 cents a barrel at $104.67 as of 0004 GMT after it settled $2.33 higher at $104.92 a barrel, its highest settlement price in 5-1/2 months.

* Brent crude settled $2.13 higher at $111.20 per barrel, after earlier spiking $3.32 to $112.39 per barrel, its highest intra-session peak since Dec. 30.

* Ukraine said Russia was massing armored vehicles on its side of a narrow stretch of water closest to Crimea after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared over the weekend that he had the right to invade his neighbor to protect Russian interests and citizens.

* Russia has deployed roughly 16,000 troops to Ukraine's autonomous region of Crimea since last week, Kiev's U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said on Monday.

* Ukraine's ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich has sent a letter to Putin requesting that he use Russia's military to restore law and order in Ukraine, Moscow's U.N. envoy told a stormy meeting of the Security Council on Monday.

* U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that Russia has violated international law with its military intervention in Ukraine and warned that the U.S. government will look at a series of economic and diplomatic sanctions that would isolate Moscow. The U.S. is weighing its response to Russia's so far bloodless incursion into Crimea.

* Obama is holding a high-level meeting at the White House about Ukraine with senior military and national security advisers, a White House official said on Monday.

* U.S. factory activity rebounded last month from an eight-month low and consumer spending increased more than expected in January, suggesting the economy was regaining some strength after abruptly slowing in recent months.


* Russia's intervention in Ukraine also drove up prices for gold and government debt on Monday as the heightened tensions spurred investors to seek safe havens and sell any exposure to the region. Stocks across Europe and on Wall Street also took a beating.


* The following data is expected on Tuesday:


1000 Euro zone Producer prices

1445 U.S. ISM-New York index

1500 U.S. IBD economic optimism