NYMEX-Crude climbs near $93 after Bernanke assurance, Italy eyed
SINGAPORE, Feb 27 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures edged towards $93 a barrel on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke eased fears of an early retreat by the Fed from its economic stimulus, although worries about Italy's inconclusive election should cap gains.
* U.S. crude for April delivery rose 13 cents to $92.76 a barrel by 0018 GMT. The contract hit a seven-week trough of $91.92 on Tuesday as Rome's political deadlock renewed fears over the euro zone debt crisis.
* Italy may pay the price for its latest political crisis with higher borrowing costs on Wednesday when it sells longer-dated bonds to investors worried about an inconclusive election.
* The vote cast over the weekend gave none of the political parties a parliamentary majority, raising the risk of prolonged instability and a rekindling of the euro zone crisis.
* Bernanke defended the Fed's monthly $85-billion bond-buying program to support the U.S. economy before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, helping calm fears that the central bank will end its stimulus program sooner than thought.
* Bernanke also urged lawmakers to prevent a steep $85 billion in spending cuts that will take effect on Friday, saying they will mean a "significant headwind" for the modest economic recovery. He speaks to lawmakers again about the outlook for the economy and monetary policy on Wednesday.
* U.S. home prices closed out 2012 with the biggest annual gain in more than six years while sales of new homes spiked in January, the latest sign that the long-suffering housing market was on the mend.
* U.S. crude stocks rose 904,000 barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said, much lower than market expectations for an increase of 2.4 million barrels.
* The United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia hope Iran will respond positively to their new offer to lift some sanctions if Tehran scales back nuclear activity the West fears could be used to build bombs.
* The yen held near one-month highs on Wednesday, remaining susceptible to bursts of short-covering as political uncertainty in Italy kept the euro under the gun.
* Asian shares rebounded, tracking U.S. stocks higher as the Fed reassured markets of its commitment to strong monetary stimulus, but investors remained wary of political gridlock in Italy reigniting the euro zone financial crisis.
0700 Germany GfK consumer sentiment
0745 France Consumer confidence
0900 Italy Business confidence
1000 Euro zone Business climate
1000 Euro zone Economic sentiment
1330 U.S. Durable goods orders
1500 U.S. Pending homes sales
1500 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers
semi-annual testimony on the economy and monetary
policy before the House Financial Services Committee
1730 European Central Bank President Mario Draghi speaks
1530 U.S. EIA petroleum status report
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Ed Davies)