NYMEX-Crude holds above $91 after sharp rise, Middle East eyed

SINGAPORE Thu Oct 4, 2012 8:23pm EDT

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SINGAPORE Oct 4 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures held steady above $91 per barrel on Friday, after rising 4 percent in the previous session on escalating tensions in the Middle East, while continued global economic concerns are expected to weigh on prices.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Front-month NYMEX futures fell 21 cents to $91.50 per barrel at 0010 GMT, poised to end the week marginally lower.

* Brent futures fell 37 cents to $112.21 per barrel.

* Turkey stepped up retaliatory artillery strikes on a Syrian border town on Thursday, killing several Syrian soldiers, while its parliament approved further military action in the most serious case of cross-border escalation in the 18-month conflict in Syria.

* The European Union is poised to ban imports of Iranian gas as part of a set of new measures to ratchet up pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme, diplomats said on Thursday.

* A fire in a diesel hydrotreater unit at Exxon Mobil Corp's giant Baytown, Texas, plant has cut production at the nation's largest operating refinery, although the loss was limited to that unit, the company said on Thursday.

* U.S. job growth likely improved only slightly in September adding 113,000 jobs to their payrolls from 96,000 in August, with the unemployment rate edging up to 8.2 percent, according to a Reuters survey. The data is due on Friday.

* European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Thursday everything was in place for the bank to buy the bonds of troubled euro zone countries such as Spain and that conditions linked to it need not be punitive.

* The euro zone is considering aiding Spain by providing insurance for investors who buy government bonds to maintain Spanish access to capital markets and minimize the cost to European taxpayers, sources said.

MARKETS NEWS

* The S&P 500 extended gains to a fourth day on Thursday, putting it on the cusp of a new five-year high if Friday's jobs report shows encouraging signs for the labour market.

* The euro started Friday's trading session on a solid footing, having rallied to two-week highs after the European Central Bank said it was ready to buy bonds of troubled euro zone members.

DATA/EVENTS: (All times GMT)

0300 Japan Bank of Japan rate decision

1000 Germany Industrial orders for August

1230 U.S. Nonfarm payrolls

1930 U.S. CFTC commitment of traders data (Reporting by Ramya Venugopal; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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