UPDATE 6-Brent, U.S. crude diverge after stockpile data
* U.S. crude stocks fall 2.05 million bl, opposite build forecast - EIA
U.S. gasoline stocks higher than exepcted - EIA
* Super storm Sandy seen impacting fuel demand on US East Coast
* Two New Jersey refineries slow to restart on power, flooding problems
* Buzzard could restart on today
(Adds EIA details, comments and updates prices)
By Julia Payne
LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil futures fell to around $108.40 a barrel on Thursday as investors assessed the aftermath of super storm Sandy, while U.S. futures gained on the back of larger than expected crude oil stock draws and U.S. manufacturing data.
The destruction wrought by the storm affected millions of people across the eastern United States and could dampen fuel demand just as the world's largest economy was showing signs of recovery, analysts said.
The pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector picked up modestly in October as new orders improved, though a measure of employment slowed. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity rose to 51.7 from 51.5 in September, topping expectations.
Brent crude for December delivery fell 33 cents to $108.37 a barrel by 1530 GMT. The front-month contract slipped for a second straight month in October on ample crude supply and worries about lower fuel demand as the global economy slows.
U.S. crude for December delivery was at $86.99 a barrel, up 75 cents.
U.S. crude oil inventories posted an unexpected draw last week while distillate stocks dropped less than forecast and gasoline supplies rose more than expected.
Crude inventories fell 2.05 million barrels, instead of a forecast 1.5 million barrel build. Distillate stockpiles slipped less than expected by 93,000 barrels. Gasoline inventories rose by 935,0000 barrels, against forecasts for a 200,000 barrel rise.
Stocks were expected to increase by next week with more crude on its way after being held up by super storm Sandy and on the back of run cuts and outages at refineries due to the storm, explained Rob Montefusco, oil broker at Sucden Financial in London.
``We saw that draw on crude and that helped put a bid in the market. I think the market found some support earlier from the employment number that had come out and the consumer confidence numbers,'' said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Investors also kept to the sidelines on an uncertain political outlook in the world's two largest oil consumers this month as Americans head to the polls for the presidential elections next week and China's leaders meet to fill top posts.
Oil prices could continue trading sideways ahead of the U.S. elections just six days away, analysts said.
East Coast fuel supplies seemed set to remain tight into next week, as spotty electrical power and flooding damage hampered the recovery of two New Jersey refineries after Hurricane Sandy.
Phillips 66 confirmed it had restored power to its 238,000-barrel-per-day Bayway refinery in New Jersey. Sources expect the plant to restart operations next week at the earliest.
U.S. oil demand in August was slightly stronger than previously estimated, but still down nearly 1 percent from a year ago, the U.S. government said Wednesday. Demand fell to 19.226 million barrels per day from last year.
U.S. gasoline futures, RBOB, for December rose 0.97 percent to $2.6521 a gallon after strong gains on Wednesday.
``As highways are reopened, etc, a scramble for gasoline supply at the retail level appears to be supporting RBOB values much more than is the case in the heating oil where residential tanks have already been filled,'' wrote Jim Ritterbusch, President, Ritterbusch & Associates, in a research note.
New York Harbor was expecting to be able to allow barges to dock but less likely larger tankers.
Brent crude remained underpinned by worries over upcoming North Sea loading programmes, owing to prolonged maintenance at the Buzzard Field, the main source for the Forties stream.
The oilfield could begin to restart later on Thursday, a trade source said.
(Reporting by Julia Payne in London, Florence Tan in Singapore; editing by Jason Neely and Keiron Henderson)