TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures rose nearer $81 on Friday, with a climb in Asian shares helping crude pare losses made a day earlier on a stronger dollar.
* NYMEX crude for April delivery was up 39 cents at $80.60 a barrel by 0025 GMT, after settling down 66 cents at $80.21 a day earlier.
* Thursday's 0.8 percent decline came as the dollar strengthened and some weak economic data soured sentiment. Crude had hit a seven-week high of $81.23 on Wednesday.
Pending sales of existing U.S. homes fell more than expected in January, according to the National Association of Realtors, casting a shadow over some earlier positive economic data in the world's largest energy consumer.
* Japan's Nikkei average rose 1.1 percent on Friday with exporters such as Kyocera Corp <6971.T> lifted by a weaker yen and gains on Wall Street after encouraging U.S. data including better than expected monthly retail sales. Seoul shares also rose.
* A potentially bearish sign for crude demand came on Wednesday when the Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude inventories rose by a larger-than-expected 4.1 million barrels last week, while gasoline stocks also increased, raising questions about U.S. energy demand. [EIA/S]
* U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as better-than-expected monthly sales from retailers and a drop in the number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits pointed to stabilisation in the economy.
* The euro was on the defensive on Friday, as a short squeeze in the single currency appeared to have run in course, with investors fretting about debt-laden Greece and Moody's cutting Deutsche Bank's ratings.
* The following data is expected on Friday:
- 0930 GMT--U.K. PPI Core Output/Feb
- 1100 GMT--Germany Industrial Orders/Jan
- 1330 GMT--U.S. Average Earnings/Feb
- 1330 GMT--U.S. Non-farm payrolls/Feb
- 1340 GMT--U.S. ECRI Inflation Index/Feb
RELATED NEWS > US shares rise on data; euro falls on ECB outlook [MKTS/GLOB] > Markets hit by dollar; soy, wheat down over 2 pct [COM/WRAP]
PRICES Oil prices as of 0025 GMT Contract Mnth Price Change Day ago pct MA-20* NYMEX Contracts US Crude APR0 $80.60 +0.39 -$0.66 -0.82% $77.17 Heat Oil APR0 207.95 +1.08 -2.50 -1.19% 199.96 RBOB APR0 224.40 +1.03 -1.39 -0.62% 204.17 Natgas APR0 $4.577 +0.002 -$0.182 -3.83% $5.074 ICE Contracts Brent APR0 -- +0.00 -$0.71 -0.90% $75.25 Gasoil MAR0 -- +0.00 -$4.50 -0.70% $607.94 Note: U.S. heating oil and RBOB gasoline contracts listed in cents per gallon. * = 20-day moving average for continuation month. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)