NYMEX-Crude gains after 2-day slump on Fed caution
SINGAPORE, Feb 22 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures edged up on Friday after two days of steep losses that pushed down prices to six-week lows in the previous session amid concern that the Federal Reserve might scale back its stimulus efforts.
U.S. economic data released Thursday - on claims for unemployment aid, factory activity and consumer prices - pointed to a still-tepid recovery and supported the case for the Fed to maintain its bond-buying programme.
* U.S. crude for April delivery gained 12 cents to $92.96 a barrel by 0039 GMT after falling as low as $92.63 on Thursday.
* The contract lost nearly $4 in the past two sessions in a broad-based commodities sell-off triggered by the release of the minutes from the Fed's January meeting that suggested it might slow or stop its asset buying programme before a pick-up in U.S. employment becomes evident.
* For the week, West Texas Intermediate oil is down 3 percent, its biggest drop since early December.
* Two Fed officials on Thursday threw support for a tighter monetary policy, while another said the Fed should keep its bond-buying scheme until the second half of 2013.
* Initial claims for U.S. unemployment benefits increased 20,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 362,000, while consumer prices were flat for a second straight month in January. A key gauge on manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region hit its lowest level since June.
* The schism dividing the euro zone's strong and weak economies deepened to include its core pairing in February as French firms suffered their worst month in four years, in stark contrast to prospering Germany.
* Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said, a defiant step that will worry Western powers ahead of a resumption of talks with Tehran next week.
* Asian shares edged higher on Friday, recouping the previous day's steep losses, as investors reassessed the Federal Reserve's commitment to its current accommodative policy while weak U.S. and European data clouded growth prospects, limiting gains.
* The euro fell to a six-week low against the dollar and a three-week trough against the yen on Thursday, pressured by disappointing euro zone economic data and by uncertainty ahead of Italy's election at the weekend.
0130 China Housing prices
0700 Germany Detailed Q4 GDP
0900 Germany Ifo business climate
1000 Italy Consumer confidence
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Chris Gallagher)