NYMEX-Crude inches down toward $94 after 1 pct gain
TOKYO, Jan 17 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures eased towards $94 a barrel on Thursday, paring a 1 percent gain a day earlier as a possible restart of Motiva's Port Arthur, Texas, refinery offset supportive factors such as an attack on an Algerian gas field and a fall in U.S. crude inventories.
* NYMEX crude for February delivery was down 14 cents at $94.10 a barrel by 2354 GMT, after settling up 96 cents at $94.24 on Wednesday.
* London Brent crude for new front-month March delivery had not traded yet, after settling up 5 cents on Wednesday. The February contract expired on Wednesday, settling up 31 cents at $110.61.
Brent's gains were capped after news that the operator of the Cormorant Alpha platform in the North Sea said it is preparing to restore the flow of an estimated 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the Brent pipeline system.
* Repairs to the new 325,000 barrel per day crude distillation unit at Motiva Enterprises 600,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery may be complete by the weekend, clearing the way for a fourth restart attempt on Saturday or Sunday, sources said.
* Al Qaeda-linked Islamists on Wednesday claimed to have seized up to 41 hostages, including seven Americans, in a raid on a gas field plant in OPEC-member Algeria.
* Crude was also supported on Wednesday by government data showing that U.S. commercial crude inventories unexpectedly fell 951,000 barrels last week.
U.S. gasoline stocks rose 1.91 million barrels and distillate stocks rose 1.69 million barrels, the data from the Energy Information Administration showed, smaller builds than expected in a Reuters poll of analysts.
* OPEC said it expected demand for its crude this year to be lower than initially thought because of higher supply from rival producers, indicating inventories could rise even after a recent output cut by Saudi Arabia.
* The S&P 500 ended nearly flat on Wednesday as solid earnings from two major banks and a bounceback in Apple shares offset concerns about a lower forecast for global growth in 2013.
* The euro struggled to regain its momentum on Thursday even after a top European central banker sounded relaxed about its recent run higher, while the yen hovered at one-week highs, still underpinned by a wave of short-covering.
* The following data is expected on Thursday: (Time in GMT)
- 1330 U.S. Housing starts number Dec
- 1330 U.S. Initial jobless claims
- 1500 U.S. Philly Fed business index Jan
- 1530 U.S. EIA underground natural gas stocks
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Richard Pullin)