NYMEX-U.S. crude steady ahead of China data

SEOUL Wed Aug 8, 2012 8:26pm EDT

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SEOUL Aug 9 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures remained steady on Thursday prior to a slew of Chinese economic data, after leaping to three-month highs on last week's U.S. crude stock drawdowns and North Sea oil supply concerns.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. September crude had gained 5 cents to $93.40 a barrel by 0007 GMT. It closed at $93.35 in the previous session after hitting $94.72, the highest since May 15.

* In London, Brent crude futures for September delivery shed 16 cents to $111.98 a barrel after settling at $112.14.

* U.S. crude oil stocks fell 3.7 million barrels to 369.9 million in the week to Aug. 3, the Energy Information Administration reported. That was more than the 300,000-barrel drawdown expected in a Reuters poll.

* Brent has risen about 25 percent and U.S. crude 21 percent since the end of June, partly on expectations the world's largest economies would take more measures to stimulate growth.

* Markets are now awaiting the latest reading on China's inflation at 0130 GMT, and Chinese industrial output and retail sales at 0530 GMT, hoping the numbers will soothe persistent jitters of a hard economic landing in the world's second biggest economy.

* Brent has found support from news of a major round of maintenance in the North Sea over the next two months, which will cut to a record low production of the four grades of crude that underpin the benchmark contract.

* Tropical storm Ernesto weakened on Wednesday as it headed toward the Gulf of Mexico, where the country's main oil operations are located. Mexico closed its three major oil export ports in the Gulf of Mexico.

* Iran hosts a foreign ministers' conference on Thursday to seek a resolution to the intensifying conflict in Syria but its latest diplomatic foray into the crisis has been met with deep scepticism by Western nations.

MARKETS NEWS

* With expectations of central bank stimulus riding high, safe-haven currencies such as the U.S. dollar and yen have languished. The dollar index was at 82.328, struggling to push off a one-month low of 82.315 plumbed on Tuesday.

* The Standard & Poor's 500 just barely extended a streak of gains to a fourth day on Wednesday, ending above 1,400 in another thinly traded session.

* Japan's Nikkei share average inched up on Thursday morning as the momentum from a three-day rally petered out.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Thursday (GMT): 0130 China CPI yy Jul 0130 China PPI yy Jul 0300 Japan BOJ rate decision Aug 0500 Japan Consumer confid. index Jul 0530 China Industrial output yy Jul 0530 China Retail sales yy Jul 0530 China Urban investment (ytd)yy Jul 0530 India Industrial Output yy Jun 1230 U.S. International Trade Jun 1230 U.S. Jobless claims Weekly 1430 U.S. EIA natural gas stocks Weekly

:: OPEC OPEC Monthly Report Jul

(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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