* U.S. crude stocks likely rose 1.4 million barrels-poll
* Distillates stocks seen down 1.5 mln barrels, gasoline
down 1.5 mln - poll
* Libya puts ministries under special budget rules after oil
* Brent to rise to $111.17 - technicals
By Manash Goswami
SINGAPORE, Feb 25 Brent futures eased on Tuesday
on expectations U.S. crude stockpiles rose for a second straight
week, but held above $110 a barrel on concerns over supply
following prolonged outages in Libya and other exporters.
An easing of the severe chill over the United States and
Europe is likely to cut demand for heating fuels, removing a key
support that has propped up oil benchmarks during a period of
typically low demand. Investors are now eyeing appetite for
gasoline ahead of the start of the U.S. summer driving season.
Brent crude fell 17 cents to $110.47 a barrel by
0342 GMT, after settling at its highest for the year in the
previous session. U.S. oil declined 35 cents to $102.47,
after ending 62 cents higher.
"After heating oil, the market will now look at gasoline
demand and how that will help support oil prices," said Tetsu
Emori, a commodity fund manager at Astmax Investment.
"There will be some refineries shutting down for
maintenance, but it is hard to predict the direction of oil at
Emori sees strong support for Brent at $105 a barrel and
resistance at $115. The U.S. benchmark faces strong support at
$100 but could slip to $98, if it breaks past that floor.
As the market refocuses attention to gasoline, worries of
further supply disruption following continued unrest in Libya,
South Sudan, Nigeria and sanctions on Iran will keep oil prices
supported, Emori said.
"Oil will probably now be driven by fundamentals of the oil
market itself," he said. "People are looking at the
demand/supply balance in the United States and other countries."
U.S. commercial crude stocks were expected to have risen
1.4 million barrels on average for the week to Feb. 21, a
preliminary Reuters poll taken ahead of weekly inventory reports
from industry group the American Petroleum Institute (API) and
from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information
Administration (EIA) showed.
That would mark an increase for a second straight week as
crude oil stocks rose about 1 million barrels to 362 million
barrels in the week to Feb. 14, while crude imports fell 508,000
bpd to 7.36 million barrels per day, EIA data had showed.
Stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel
fuel, were forecast to have fallen 1.5 million barrels on
average last week, in the latest survey. Gasoline stocks were
also seen down 1.5 million.
(Reporting by Manash Goswami; Editing by Richard Pullin)