* Eyes on EU bond purchase, growth measures from US, China
* Mideast tensions support oil
* Coming up: API weekly oil stocks; 2030 GMT
SINGAPORE, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Brent crude held steady above
$109 a barrel on Tuesday, on hopes that Europe would take
further action to tackle its intractable debt crisis, while
supply worries stemming from North Sea maintenance and Middle
East tensions also supported prices.
The European Central Bank last week said it may again start
buying government bonds to reduce crippling Spanish and Italian
borrowing costs, but details of how it will stabilise the bloc's
bond markets have yet to be fleshed out.
"The market is trying to interpret everything that's coming
out of the ECB so there is a lot of indecisiveness across
assets," said Ben Le Brun, a Sydney-based market analyst at
"The uncertainty, coupled with tension in the Middle East,
is giving a slightly positive impact to oil prices."
Brent crude for September delivery inched 40 cents
lower to $109.15 a barrel by 0642 GMT, after closing at its
highest level in 11 weeks.
U.S. crude edged down 31 cents to $91.89.
The drop in crude prices was kept in check as the violence
in Syria and Iran's dispute with the West over Tehran's nuclear
program continued to keep investors worried about the potential
threat to oil supply from the region.
HOPE FOR STIMULUS MOVES BY CHINA, U.S.
Hopes that the United States and China -- the world's top
two oil consumers -- will adopt stimulus measures to boost
growth were also a positive for the oil market.
"The economy looks stronger, but it's too early to say,"
Tony Nunan, a risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp said. "Oil is
stuck in a range here."
China will release from Thursday a deluge of data, ranging
from industrial output to investment, which is likely to show
the world's second-largest economy is, at best, stabilising
rather than recovering briskly.
"We're looking for some consolidation on industrial
production before it starts improving again," Le Brun said.
TIGHTER NORTH SEA SUPPLY
On the supply side, expectations of a sharp fall in output
from the North Sea's second-largest crude oil stream in
September kept the September Brent price sharply higher than
and points to strong prompt demand.
In North America, investors were also watching Tropical
Storm Ernesto, which is forecast to move into the southern part
of the Gulf of Mexico by Thursday, but it was too early to know
if it could disrupt oil and gas operations in the Gulf.
Crude stockpiles in the United States were forecast down
last week for a second straight time, a preliminary Reuters poll
Tensions in the Middle East also underpinned oil prices.
Syria's prime minister fled the country on Monday as
fighting continued, while a pipeline explosion halted Iraqi
crude exports to Turkey.
Sudan will resume talks with South Sudan on Aug. 26 to
resolve remaining conflicts after reaching an interim oil
agreement, the Sudanese state news agency SUNA said.
Disputes between the countries have reduced Sudanese crude
exports by about 350,000 barrels per day from early this year.
(Editing by Himani Sarkar)