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NYMEX-US crude holds above $102 on inventory data

SINGAPORE May 15 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures eased in early Asian trade on Thursday, but held above $102 a barrel after hitting three-week highs on the back of a draw on crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma conract delivery point.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude for June delivery was down 33 cents at $102.04 a barrel by 0052 GMT after closing 67 cents higher at $102.37, its highest settlement price since April 21.

* Brent oil slipped to $110.17 a barrel from $110.19 in the previous session, the highest settlement since April 24. The June contract expires on Thursday, which may have exaggerated price gains due to a lower volume of trades.

* U.S. crude stocks rose overall last week but inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point fell by 592,000 barrels, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.

* Gasoline inventories fell by 772,000 barrels along with distillates, which were down 1.1 million barrels, as refineries cut output or went down for maintenance before the official start of the summer driving season just two weeks away.

* Ukraine's interim leaders mulled plans to give regions greater autonomy in talks on Wednesday ahead of presidential elections on May 25 but the exclusion of pro-Russian separatists

cast doubt over whether the move could defuse the political crisis.

* Energy ministers from Russia and the European Union will meet in Berlin on May 19 to set a date and place for a second round of talks with Ukraine to end a dispute over gas prices and supplies.

* Russia is ready to discuss price and conditions for gas supplies to Ukraine if Kiev pays least part of its $4 billion gas debt, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.

* Production has restarted at Libya's El Feel oilfield, the National Oil Corp (NOC) said on Wednesday, but the 340,000 barrel per day El Sharara oilfield was still closed because protesters had yet to open the pipeline valve to Zawiya port.

* Iran and six world powers started three days of talks in Vienna on Wednesday aimed at drafting an agreement for Tehran to curb its controversial nuclear program in exchange for a phased end to crippling sanctions.

MARKETS NEWS

* Asian shares stepped back from a one-month high on Thursday, tracking a retreat on Wall Street, while expectations of credit easing by the European Central Bank knocked down yields on U.S. and European bonds.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Thursday:

- 0600 GMT Germany Preliminary Q1 GDP

- 0900 GMT Euro zone Preliminary Q1 GDP

- 0900 GMT Euro zone Final inflation April

- 1230 GMT U.S. Weekly jobless claims

- 1230 GMT U.S. Consumer prices April

- 1230 GMT U.S. New York Fed manufacturing May

- 1315 GMT U.S. Industrial output April

- 1400 GMT U.S. NAHB housing market index May

- 1400 GMT U.S. Philly Fed business index May

(Reporting By Keith Wallis; Editing by Richard Pullin)