* U.S., Russia push for rapid talks to end Syria carnage
* U.S. crude inventories rose 680,000 barrels - API
* Asian shares rise on strong China data
* Brent to test support at $103.77 -technicals
* Coming Up: EIA weekly inventory data; 1430 GMT (Adds comments, updates prices)
By Manash Goswami
SINGAPORE, May 8 (Reuters) - Brent oil steadied above $104 a barrel on Wednesday, recovering from earlier losses after data from China showed crude imports by the world's No.2 consumer rose in April, although concerns about global demand kept a lid on prices.
China's daily crude imports in April rose 3.7 percent from a year ago and 3.5 percent versus March, customs data showed, as refiners took advantage of lower prices to replenish stocks.
The optimism stemming from this data pushed Asian shares and most other risk assets higher, but oil prices were kept in check by the U.S. Energy Information Administration's estimate for ample supplies.
Brent slipped 11 cents to $104.29 a barrel by 0410 GMT, after hitting a low of $103.85 earlier in the day. It rose more than $7 in almost a week to just below $106 in the previous session on worries about supply disruption after Israeli air strikes on Syria. U.S. oil rose 7 cents to $95.69.
"We are going to see wide swings in prices, at around $100 for Brent, because fundamentally the market is extremely bearish while geopolitical concerns are providing support," said Tony Nunan, a risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp.
"China's oil demand will continue to grow as the country gets wealthier, but their growth is getting offset by the slowdown in demand in the wealthy nations."
China shipped in 23.08 million tonnes, or 5.62 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude last month, up from 5.42 million bpd the same month a year ago and 5.43 million bpd in March.
But over the first four months of the year, China's crude imports fell 0.9 percent, partly due to a high base of first-quarter 2012 imports but also reflecting weaker demand amid concerns about the pace of its economic recovery.
"China has shown that they have been savvy, they have been market-oriented in building inventories," Nunan said.
"So if we see oil prices weakening further, China may step in to import more to build up its stockpile. Brent under $100 may be a buying opportunity."
Brent dropped to around $102 a barrel at the end of April, from around $110 at the start of the month, dipping below $97 along the way.
"We expect Chinese net imports to rise faster than demand, the latter of which we peg at 5 percent this year," said Sijin Chen, an analyst at Barclays. "So crude imports are likely to grow in the high single-digit range."
Still, prices may stay under pressure given projections of a well-supplied market and bleak global demand.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) cut its forecast for demand growth for this year to 890,000 bpd and pared its 2014 estimate to 1.21 million bpd - a total of just over 2.1 million bpd demand growth over two years.
At the same time, the EIA sees supplies from countries outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries growing by 1.11 million bpd in 2013 and by a further 1.77 million next year - combined growth of almost 2.9 million bpd over the same period.
Data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed U.S. crude inventories rose 680,000 barrels for the week to May 3. That compares with a Reuters poll forecasting an increase on average of 1.9 million barrels.
Traders now await data from the EIA, due later in the day, to gauge the country's demand growth outlook.
Yet, lingering worries about the Middle East is keeping a floor under prices. Russia and the United States plan to try to convene international talks with both sides of the civil war in Syria, alarmed at the prospect of the conflict spilling across an already volatile region.
"The situation in Syria is threatening to escalate from a local civil war to a regional conflict," said Mitsubishi's Nunan. "It is adding a huge risk premium on oil." (Editing by Himani Sarkar)