April 1, 2014 / 12:36 AM / 3 years ago

NYMEX-U.S. crude edges down towards $101; Ukraine, China eyed

SINGAPORE, April 1 (Reuters) - U.S. crude edged down towards $101 a barrel on Tuesday on a potential easing of tensions over Ukraine, as investors wait on Chinese factory data for clues to fuel demand in the world's second-largest oil consumer.

In a gesture that could ease tension in the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War, Russia pulled some troops back from near Ukraine's eastern frontier - a move the United States said would be a positive sign if it is confirmed as a withdrawal.

China's factory activity is expected to have picked up slightly in March, a Reuters poll showed, in a rare piece of good news, although the figure is unlikely to alter views that the world's second-largest economy is facing a slow first quarter.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude for May delivery edged down 13 cents to $101.45 a barrel by 0013 GMT.

* Brent crude was at $107.71 a barrel, down 5 cents.

* Rebels in eastern Libya are close to reopening three oil ports they have occupied since the summer to press Tripoli for autonomy and a greater share of oil revenue, a leader from the rebels' tribe told state media on Monday.

* U.S. commercial crude oil stocks likely continued to build last week on higher imports despite an expected upswing in refinery runs, while inventories of refined oil products were projected to have fallen, a preliminary Reuters poll of four analysts showed.

* Commodities had the best quarter in 18 months as trading for March ended on Monday, with weather and economic growth likely to determine if gas, gold, grains, lean hogs and coffee continue going higher and draw money into the space.

MARKETS NEWS

* The yen stayed on the backfoot early on Tuesday, while the dollar dipped slightly after the head of the Federal Reserve took pains to defend the central bank's ultra-loose policy settings.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Tuesday: (Time in GMT)

0100 China Official manufacturing PMI

0145 China Final HSBC manufacturing PMI

0755 Germany Markit/BME manufacturing PMI

0800 Euro zone Markit manufacturing PMI

0900 Euro zone Unemployment rate

1400 U.S. Construction spending

1400 U.S. IBD economic optimism

1400 U.S. ISM manufacturing PMI

2030 U.S. API weekly oil stocks (Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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