NYMEX-Crude near 3-wk low ahead of Fed, but sees best mth in nearly a yr
SINGAPORE, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil steadied near three-week lows on Wednesday after falling more than a dollar the day before as expectations of tight U.S. supplies were seen as overplayed, but prices remain on track for their biggest monthly gain in nearly a year.
Investors were likely to mark time ahead of the outcome of a Federal Reserve meeting, which could offer clues on when it will start curbing monetary stimulus that has boosted market liquidity.
* U.S. crude for September delivery was little changed at $103.11 a barrel by 0045 GMT. The contract touched a low of $102.67 on Tuesday, its weakest since July 9.
* But the U.S. oil benchmark is still up nearly 7 percent in July and is looking at its biggest monthly gain since August 2012, having hit 16-month peaks following sustained declines in U.S. crude stockpiles that pointed to firmer demand.
* Brent crude eased 12 cents to $106.79 a barrel. It is up 4.5 percent for the month, also its biggest such gain since last August.
* Investors are also eyeing U.S. gross domestic product data, with a Reuters poll showing annual growth may have slowed to 1.0 percent in the second quarter from 1.8 percent in the first quarter. With the GDP data mostly history and the Fed more focused on the labour market, the number is unlikely to deter the Fed from reducing its bond purchases later this year.
* U.S. commercial crude oil stockpiles dropped for the fifth straight week, falling 740,000 barrels last week, based on data from the American Petroleum Institute, less than the 2.3 million barrels forecast in a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.
* U.S. crude oil will narrow its discount <CL-LCO1=R> to North Sea Brent this year and next, but the U.S. oil contract is unlikely to establish a sustained premium over the global benchmark during that time, a Reuters poll showed.
* U.S. home prices rose in May, suggesting the housing market recovery pushed ahead during the spring buying season, though the pace of gains slowed in what analysts said could be a sign of things to come.
* JPMorgan Chase & Co agreed to pay $410 million to settle allegations of power market manipulation in California and the Midwest, the latest in a series of high-profile inquiries by U.S. federal energy regulators.
* Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, in their first peace talks in nearly three years, gave themselves about nine months to try to reach an agreement on ending their conflict of more than six decades in U.S.-brokered peace talks.
* The dollar struggled to extend modest overnight gains as investors trod cautiously ahead of the outcome of the Fed policy review that could see the central bank drive home a dovish message.
0600 Germany Retail sales
0755 Germany Unemployment rate
0900 Euro zone Inflation
0900 Euro zone Unemployment rate
1215 U.S. ADP employment report
1230 U.S. Q2 GDP Advance
1345 U.S. Chicago PMI
1430 U.S. EIA weekly crude stocks
1800 Federal Open Market Committee announces outcome of
(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Joseph Radford)