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UPDATE 8-Oil falls ahead of hurricane but set for weekly gain as trade row eases

eases@

* Brent set for weekly rise of 1.7%, WTI up 1.5%

For the month, Brent set for 7.4% drop, WTI down 6%

* Hurricane headed for Florida may hit oil demand

* OPEC posts first 2019 oil-output rise despite Saudi cuts

* U.S. oil drillers cut rigs for 9th month to least since Jan 2018 (Updates prices, market activity)

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Oil futures fell on Friday, with U.S. crude down 3% ahead of a hurricane near the Florida coast that could dampen demand, but prices were still headed for the biggest weekly increase since early July, boosted by an easing of U.S.-China trade rhetoric.

Brent crude futures lost 74 cents, or 1.2%, to $60.34 a barrel by 1:25 p.m. EDT (1725 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $1.72, or 3%, to $54.99 a barrel.

Hurricane Dorian gained strength as it crept closer to Florida's coast on Friday, raising the risk that parts of the U.S. state will be hit by strong winds, a storm surge and heavy rain for a prolonged period after it makes landfall early next week.

"The latest modeling has Hurricane Dorian avoiding the Gulf of Mexico, while raking the entire state of Florida, turning it into a demand destruction event for the energy market rather than a supply disruption event," said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital in New York.

U.S. crude oil output fell for a second straight month in June, dropping by 33,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 12.08 million bpd, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report released on Friday.

In an indication of future production, U.S. energy firms cut 12 oil rigs in the week to Aug. 30, bringing the total count down to 742, General Electric Co's Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday. The rig count declined for the ninth straight month to its lowest since January last year. <RIG-OL-USA-BHI>

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' oil output rose 80,000 barrels per day in August, the first monthly increase this year, a Reuters survey found.

OPEC, Russia and other non-members, an alliance known as OPEC+, agreed in December to reduce supply by 1.2 million bpd in 2019. Russia's oil output in August was slightly higher than levels agreed under its output deal with OPEC+, but Moscow is still aiming to fully comply with the deal, RIA and Interfax news agencies cited Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying.

Oil prices have fallen by around 20% since they hit a 2019 peak in April, in part because of concerns that the U.S.-China trade war could hurt the global economy and soften demand for oil.

In August alone, Brent was set for a monthly drop of 7.4%, and WTI was on track to lose 6%.

This week, however, WTI is set to rise 1.5% and Brent by 1.7%, in part due to hopes that trade tensions between the world's two biggest oil consumers are easing.

Chinese and U.S. trade negotiating teams are maintaining effective communication, China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Analysts polled by Reuters slashed their price forecasts for Brent to an average of $65.02 in 2019 - the lowest in more than 16 months - citing softening global demand brought on by an economic slowdown and the trade row.

(Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick;Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Evans)