NYMEX-US crude steadies after sharp fall on inventory build

SINGAPORE, April 19 Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:18pm EDT

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SINGAPORE, April 19 (Reuters) - U.S. crude prices steadied above $102 a barrel on Thursday, after falling sharply the previous session on a larger-than-expected build in U.S. crude inventories.

FUNDAMENTALS

* NYMEX crude for May rose 14 cents to $102.81 a barrel by 2310 GMT, after falling more than a dollar the previous session.

* U.S. crude stocks jumped 3.9 million barrels in the week to April 13, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed, substantially exceeding analyst expectations. Over the past month, supplies have swelled nearly 22.8 million barrels, the biggest four-week build since February 2009.

* Japan will slash purchases from Iran in April, and European and Taiwanese customers will also take less, industry sources told Reuters on Wednesday, adding to signs Western sanctions are curbing sales from OPEC's second-largest producer.

MARKETS NEWS

* The euro slipped for a second straight session on Wednesday as euro-zone debt worries mounted one day ahead of a bond sale in Spain, seen as a test of Madrid's capacity to grapple with financial and budgetary pressures.

* Euro zone participants must lay out a clear path toward fiscal union and supervise their banks centrally if they want to restore market confidence in monetary union and achieve lasting financial stability, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

* Spain should take a rise in its bond yields as a spur to tackle the root cause of its debt woes, not look to the European Central Bank to help by buying its bonds, European Central Bank policymaker Jens Weidmann told Reuters.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Thursday:

1230 U.S. Jobless claims Weekly

1400 U.S. Existing home sales Mar

1430 U.S. EIA natural gas stocks Weekly (Reporting by Randy Fabi; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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