* U.S. crude, distillate stocks rise, gasoline drops-EIA
* Dollar firms to 7-mnth high against foreign currencies
* Crude stocks drop at Cushing, Oklahoma - EIA
* Bearish monthly reports from OPEC, EIA and IEA
(Adds detail and comment, settlement prices)
By Joshua Schneyer
NEW YORK, March 13 Brent crude fell on Wednesday
on a larger-than-expected increase in U.S. crude inventories, a
firming dollar, and a forecast from the International Energy
Agency that oil demand will shrink.
Brent fell $1.13 a barrel to settle at $108.52,
below its 200-day moving average of $109.37, a technical support
level monitored by traders. U.S. crude futures fell 2
cents to settle at $92.52 a barrel.
Oil prices fell after U.S. crude stocks rose 2.62 million
barrels last week, according to weekly U.S. Energy Information
Administration (EIA) data. Analysts in a Reuters poll had
expected a smaller rise of 2.3 million barrels.
Stocks of distillate fuels also posted a small, unexpected
rise, while gasoline inventories fell more than expected, the
EIA data showed.
The U.S. dollar rose 0.4 percent against a basket of foreign
currencies. A stronger dollar index, which reached a
seven-month high on Wednesday, can make oil more expensive for
holders of other currencies.
"The dollar remains the big elephant in the room
and with the euro (weakening), we expect further dollar
strength, which will put pressure on energy prices," said Chris
Jarvis at Caprock Risk Management in Boston.
TEPID DEMAND GROWTH FORECAST
The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday trimmed
its forecast for 2013 global oil demand growth in its monthly
report, adding pressure to crude prices.
The IEA also said U.S. crude oil production gains would be
enough to protect against most shocks from potential supply
The IEA report came after the EIA trimmed its own demand
growth expectations and the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) left its forecast unchanged in
reports released earlier this week.
OPEC also warned that risks to the U.S. and euro zone's
economic growth could dampen demand growth.
The EIA also reported a 1.53-million-barrel drop in crude
oil stocks last week at Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for
the U.S. light sweet crude contract.
"The drawdown in Cushing is significant. That's the area
where the glut is happening ... and a drawdown in this part of
the world would probably mean the spread between Brent and WTI
should continue to come in," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price
Futures Group in Chicago.
Brent's premium to U.S. crude CL-LCO1=R fell below $16 a
barrel to its lowest since Jan. 23.
Brent fell for a fourth straight session. The slide was
exacerbated after Tuesday's news that South Korea plans to close
a tax loophole on a rebate for crude in April, according to a
customs source. That could limit the flow of North Sea crude to
For a 24-hr analysis on Brent:
Asia crude imports from Iran: link.reuters.com/vyw45t
(Additional reporting by Robert Gibbons, Eileen Houlihan and
Sabina Zawadzki in New York, Dasha Afanasieva in London and
Manash Goswami and Ramya Venugopal in Singapore; Editing by Bob