NYMEX-Crude hovers near $91, 'fiscal cliff' in focus
SEOUL, Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures remained close to $91 a barrel on Thursday, with investors hoping resumed budget talks in the United States will avert tax hikes and spending cuts that could dampen oil demand.
* U.S. crude for February delivery had fallen 10 cents a barrel to $90.88 as of 0005 GMT. It settled up 2.7 percent at $90.98 a barrel on Wednesday.
* Brent previously closed up 2.1 percent at $111.07.
* As President Barack Obama cut short a Christmas vacation to resume talks to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of automatic year-end tax hikes and spending cuts, the White House on Wednesday called on congressional Republicans not to stand in the way of a resolution in the U.S. Congress.
* Any decline in oil prices was limited by news that temperatures across much of the northern half of the United States are expected to be colder than normal during the first quarter.
* Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a senior diplomat to Moscow on Wednesday to discuss proposals to end the conflict convulsing his country made by international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Syrian and Lebanese sources said.
* Security forces in the United Arab Emirates have arrested a cell of UAE and Saudi Arabian citizens which was planning to carry out militant attacks in both countries and other states, the official news agency WAM said on Wednesday.
* U.S. stocks fell for a third straight day on Wednesday, dragged lower by retail shares after a report showed consumers spent less in the holiday shopping season than last year. The Dow Jones industrial average closed 0.19 percent down at 13,114.59. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 0.48 percent to 1,419.83.
* Japan's benchmark Nikkei average opened up 0.63 percent at 10,295.26 on Thursday, while the broader Topix gained 0.71 percent to 853.70.
* The yen on Thursday traded close to a more than two-year low against the dollar touched in the previous session. The euro was at $1.3221, steady from late U.S. trading levels, though down from Wednesday's session high of $1.3254.
* The following data is expected on Thursday (GMT):
0500 Japan Construction orders yy Nov 2012 JPCORD=ECI 1330 U.S. Jobless claims Weekly ECONUS 1500 U.S. New home sales Nov ECONUS 2130 U.S. API weekly crude stocks Weekly USOIAC=ECI 2130 U.S. API weekly dist. stocks Weekly USOIAD=ECI 2130 U.S. API weekly gasoline stk Weekly USOIAG=ECI 2300 S.Korea Industrial output yy Nov 2012 KRIOY=ECI 2313 Japan Manufacturing PMI Dec 2012 JPRPMI=ECI 2330 Japan CPI, core nationwide yy Nov 2012 JPCPI=ECI 2350 Japan Industrial output prelim mm Nov 2012 JPIP1=ECI 2350 Japan IP forecast 1 mth ahead Nov 2012 JPIP2=ECI :: Russia HSBC Mfg PMI Dec 2012 RUPMIM=ECI
(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Joseph Radford)