NYMEX-Crude inches up, above $97 on better demand outlook
TOKYO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures edged up for a third day on Wednesday as international agencies said global oil demand was set to grow faster than previously expected, while a surprise drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles also underpinned prices.
* NYMEX crude for March delivery had risen 8 cents to$97.59 a barrel by 0038 GMT, after settling up 48 cents at $97.51 on Tuesday.
The contract now stands less than a dollar below a 4-1/2 month high of $98.24 marked on Jan. 30.
* London Brent crude for March delivery, which expires later in the day, was yet to trade, after settling up 53 cents at $118.66.
* The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Tuesday increased its forecast for demand growth by 110,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.05 million bpd in 2013, taking global demand to 90.2 million bpd this year as the world economy recovers.
Producer group OPEC also forecast on Tuesday that global oil consumption would expand by 840,000 bpd this year, 80,000 bpd more than previously expected.
* Worries over Iran's nuclear programme eased somewhat on Tuesday after Tehran acknowledged it was converting some of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel. That could help prevent a dispute with the West over its nuclear programme hitting a crisis in mid-2013.
* The market took in stride North Korea's promised nuclear test on Tuesday. 1/8ID:ID:nL4N0BC0Y4 3/8
* U.S. President Barack Obama will lay out a plan for economic growth in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, seeking to attract jobs from overseas and "reignite" the middle class, according to excerpts provided by the White House.
* U.S. crude stocks fell 2.3 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported after Tuesday's settlement, against expectations for a 2.4 million barrels build in a Reuters poll.
Gasoline stocks fell 810,000 barrels and distillate stocks dropped 1.1 million barrels, the API said. Gasoline stocks had been expected to rise 300,000 barrels and distillate stocks were expected to drop 1.6 million barrels.
* Speculators have nearly doubled their bets that oil prices will continue to rise, according to trading positions reported to regulators and exchanges since early December.
* U.S. stocks closed modestly higher on Tuesday, putting the Dow within striking distance of an all-time peak.
* The yen held firm on Wednesday, having swung higher in dramatic style as investors cut bearish positions after an official from the Group of Seven said there were concerns about excessive movements in Japan's currency.
* The following data is expected on Wednesday: (Time in GMT)
- 0900 Norway GDP growth Q4
- 1000 Euro Zone Industrial production Dec
- 1200 U.S. Mortgage market index
- 1330 U.S. Import/Export prices Jan
- 1330 U.S. Retail sales Jan
- 1500 U.S. Business inventories Dec
- 1530 U.S. Energy Information Administration oil report
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Joseph Radford)