Brent dips towards $107 on weak China trade data

* Iran, six powers seek to narrow "significant gaps" in nuclear talks

* U.S. crude stocks rise, at a record on the Gulf coast -EIA

* Libya's oil guards take control of Hariga port, Zueitina pending

* Brent to fall to $107.17 -technicals

SINGAPORE, April 10 (Reuters) - Brent futures eased towards $107 a barrel on Thursday on weak China trade data and as investors booked profits after gains of 2 percent in the past two days.

The losses though were stemmed by optimism over a healthier demand growth outlook from the Asian giant and the United States.

China's exports unexpectedly fell for the second straight month in March and import growth dropped sharply, intensifying concerns about weak manufacturing and slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy.

But the country's customs bureau sounded an optimistic note about the outlook, saying it saw a pickup in the second quarter due to an improving trade environment. The nation's crude imports were little changed from a month earlier.

Brent crude fell 49 cents to $107.49 a barrel by 0309 GMT, after gaining $2.16 over the past two days. U.S. crude fell 38 cents to $103.22.

"We are seeing a further pull-back in oil because China's trade numbers fell short of expectations," said Ben Le Brun, a market analyst at OptionsXpress in Sydney. "Overall, crude import numbers seem healthy and it shows that oil demand is still there, but oil is just one side of the story."

There has been a run of weaker-than-expected Chinese data this year that has raised fears the economy may be slowing more than had been expected.

"The market is reacting to the overall trade numbers and it looks like participants are trying to gauge if these weak overall numbers will make China announce some stimulus, more spending on infrastructure to boost growth," said Le Brun.

But further losses were also stemmed after minutes of the latest U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting suggested the central bank may be more cautious towards raising interest rates, easing market concerns of a pullback in stimulus before the economy is ready.

"Oil prices look set to rise on the back of a continued soft monetary policy that will allow U.S. consumers to spend more," said Le Brun.


A steep fall in gasoline stockpiles in the United States also put a floor on oil prices, and helped overshadow a rise in overall crude stockpiles in the world's top consumer.

Gasoline stocks fell by 5.2 million barrels to 210 million barrels in the week ending April 4, Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed, more than the expected 729,000-barrel draw. Demand for gasoline was 4.4 percent higher than a year ago at 8.8 million barrels per day (bpd).

Crude inventories rose 4 million barrels to 384 million barrels, much more than the 1.3-million-barrel build expected by analysts polled by Reuters.

Oil also drew additional support from tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Libya's state-run Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) took full control of eastern-most Hariga oil port on Wednesday, but a handover by rebels to the PFG had yet to happen at the Zueitina port, a PFG spokesman said.

The weekend agreement to open the two eastern ports marks the beginning of the end of the nine-month blockade of major oil terminals by a federalist rebel group led by Ibrahim al-Jathran.

(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)