NYMEX-Crude hovers near 4-1/2 month top on strong US data
SEOUL, Jan 30 (Reuters) - U.S. crude steadied near $97.50 a barrel on Wednesday, holding on to most of its gains from the previous session when it hit a 4-1/2 month top as strong housing data stirred optimism about fuel demand.
The market is now waiting for the outcome of a two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting and first estimates for fourth-quarter U.S. gross domestic product due later in the day.
* U.S. crude edged down 14 cents a barrel at $97.43 as of 0023 GMT, not far from the previous session's peak at $97.82. It settled up nearly 1.2 percent at $97.57 on Tuesday.
* Brent crude previously settled up 88 cents at $114.36 per barrel, having reached $114.49, its highest price since Oct. 16, 2012.
* U.S. home prices rose in November, climbing more than 5 percent from a year ago in the biggest increase since August 2006 when the housing market was starting to collapse.
* The focus has been on the Fed's monetary policy committee, which started the first of its two-day gathering on Tuesday. The Fed has said it expects to keep short-term U.S. interest rates exceptionally low to help support the economy. The low rates have helped push up oil prices, as investors pour cash into riskier asset classes.
* U.S. crude stockpiles rose by 4.2 million barrels in the week to Jan. 25, much more than the 2.6 million barrel rise that analysts had expected, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed on Tuesday.
* The EIA weekly inventory report is due on Wednesday at 1530 GMT.
* At least 65 people were found shot dead with their hands bound in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Tuesday in a "new massacre" in the near two-year revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said. Opposition campaigners blamed the government but it was impossible to confirm who was responsible.
* U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday, led by defensive sectors, in a sign the cash piles recently moving into the market are being put to use by cautious investors to pick up more gains.
* Japan's Nikkei share average edged up on Wednesday as investor sentiment was supported by the trend for a weaker yen, while investors awaited more trading cues from local earnings.
* Euro bulls were battling to break 14-month peaks versus the dollar on Wednesday and trip option barriers at $1.3500, while the yen stayed under pressure on the belief that true reflation in Japan would require a much weaker currency.
* The following data is expected on Wednesday (GMT):
1000 Euro zone Business climate
1000 Euro zone Economic sentiment
1315 U.S. ADP employment report
1330 U.S. Preliminary Q4 GDP
1915 U.S. FOMC policy decision
1530 U.S. EIA petroleum status report
(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Himani Sarkar)