TOKYO, Aug 1 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures fell below $98 early on Friday, putting the contract on course for its biggest weekly drop in seven months, as news of a potentially lengthy shutdown of a key refinery and a slide in equities weighed on sentiment.
* U.S. crude futures for September delivery fell 28 cents to $97.89 a barrel by 0006 GMT, putting the contract on course for a 4.1 percent drop for the week - its steepest since the week to January 3.
* The frontmonth contract finished $2.10 lower on Thursday.
* CVR Refining said on Thursday that its 115,000-barrel-per-day Coffeyville, Kansas, refinery, which is a major consumer of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, could be down four weeks after a July 29 fire in the facility’s isomerization unit.
* U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called the 72-hour ceasefire agreed to by Israel and Hamas in their conflict in the Gaza Strip a “lull of opportunity” and said it was imperative that the sides make their best efforts to find common ground.
* Russia’s three largest banks sought to assure clients and investors on Thursday they had the resources necessary to fulfil obligations despite their inclusion on the EU’s latest round of sanctions for Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
* Efforts by Iraqi Kurdistan to boost its finances through bulk oil sales suffered a setback on Thursday as its main U.S. customer swore off more purchases and Baghdad vowed to block delivery from oil-laden vessels like one the Kurds were loading for export.
* U.S. labor costs recorded their biggest gain in more than 5-1/2 years in the second quarter and a gauge of trends in the jobs market fell to an eight-year low last week, data showed on Thursday, bolstering the economy’s outlook.
* Dollar bulls took a breather early on Friday ahead of a closely watched jobs report that has the potential to make or break a rally that saw the greenback post its best monthly performance in over a year.
* The U.S. S&P 500 stock index posted its worst daily fall since April and its first monthly drop since January on Thursday, as economic data sparked concern the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates sooner than some have expected.
* The following data is expected on Friday: (Time in GMT)
0100 China Official manufacturing PMI July
0145 China HSBC manufacturing PMI final July
0750 France Markit manufacturing PMI July
0755 Germany Markit/BME manufacturing PMI July
0800 Euro zone Markit manufacturing PMI July
1230 U.S. Non-farm payrolls July
1230 U.S. Unemployment rate July
1400 U.S. ISM manufacturing PMI July
1400 U.S. Construction spending June (Reporting by James Topham; Editing by Richard Pullin)