SEOUL, Aug 14 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures declined to below $97.50 a barrel on Thursday in early Asian trade, pressured by an unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventory and high oil output in the United States and OPEC member countries.
* U.S. crude slipped 18 cents at $97.41 a barrel as of 0006 GMT. It settled 22 cents higher at $97.59 a barrel.
* Front-month September brent crude, which will expire on Thursday, lost 29 cents at $103.99 a barrel after settling $1.26 higher at $104.28 a barrel.
* U.S. crude stocks rose by 1.4 million barrels last week as refineries cut output, compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 2 million barrels, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday.
* Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 418,000 barrels, EIA data showed.
* U.S. crude oil production averaged an estimated 8.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in July, the highest level since April 1987, the Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday.
* In its monthly short term energy outlook, the EIA also raised its crude production for next year's output to 9.3 million bpd from 9.27 million bpd previously. The 2015 forecast represents the highest annual average level of oil production since 1972.
* OPEC output also rose to a five-month high above 30 million bpd in July, according to the IEA.
* From Libya, an oil tanker carrying 670,000 barrels of crude has left Ras Lanuf oil terminal, the first shipment since the port was reopened following a year of blockades by armed protesters, a spokesman for state-run National Oil Corporation said.
On the demand side, the market was pressured as China's implied oil demand dropped 6 percent in July from June as crude runs fell slightly and the world's largest energy consumer exported its highest net volume of fuel so far this year.
* The fall in the oil prices has been capped by concerns of possible supply disruption due to geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. A team of U.S. military and aid personnel landed on Iraq's Mount Sinjar to assess how to evacuate thousands of civilians under siege from Sunni militant fighters, a U.S. official said.
* The European Union is looking into how it could tighten sanctions to stop Islamic State militants from selling oil from fields they have overrun in Syria, a European diplomat said on Wednesday. Islamic State is selling crude oil and gasoline to finance their newly declared "caliphate" after seizing oil fields in both Iraq and Syria.
* A global stock gauge rose on Wednesday, boosted by a technology-led rebound on Wall Street, while Brazilian markets were shaken by the death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash.
* Investors were optimistic about a possible de-escalation of the conflict on the Russia-Ukraine border, giving stocks support, while copper, a barometer for global economic growth, fell more than 1 percent to a seven-week low.
* The following data is expected on Thursday:
DATA AHEAD (GMT)
0530 France GDP Flash Q2
0600 Germany GDP Flash Q2
0900 Euro zone GDP Flash Q2
0900 Euro zone Inflation Final July
1230 U.S. Import prices July
1230 U.S. Export prices July
1230 U.S. Weekly jobless claims
(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Richard Pullin)