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NYMEX-US crude holds near 4-month lows on supply glut woes

Tuesday, 22 Oct 2013 | 9:12 PM ET

SINGAPORE, Oct 23 (Reuters) - U.S. oil futures steadied above $98 a barrel on Wednesday, near their weakest level in almost four months, amid swelling crude stockpiles in the world's top consumer that kept Brent's premium to the U.S. contract at its widest since April.

FUNDAMENTALS

* U.S. crude for December delivery was off 5 cents at $98.25 a barrel by 0056 GMT. The November futures, the previous front-month contract, which expired on Tuesday hit a low of $97.50, its weakest since July 1.

* Brent crude gained 7 cents to $110.04 a barrel.

* The Brent/WTI spread <CL-LCO1=R> rose to as much as $11.94 on Wednesday, the most since April 15. The price gap could deter U.S. imports of overseas crude and may bolster inland margins.

* Recent data showing that crude stockpiles in Cushing, Oklahoma, were rising again after a 14-week decline fueled selling pressure in the U.S. contract.

* Figures from industry group American Petroleum Institute showed stocks at the U.S. oil storage hub rose last week by 423 million barrels for the second week in a row, while U.S. crude inventories rose by 3 million barrels.

* But hopes the Federal Reserve will maintain its economic stimulus for longer could keep oil's losses in check. A smaller than forecast increase of 148,000 in U.S. nonfarm payrolls for September backed expectations the Fed could keep its monthly bond buying into next year.

* Iran is reaching out to its old oil buyers and is ready to cut prices if Western sanctions against it are eased, promising a battle for market share in a world less hungry for oil than when sanctions were imposed.

MARKETS NEWS

* The dollar wobbled near two-year lows against the euro after disappointing U.S. jobs data cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus in place at least until early next year.

DATA/EVENTS (GMT)

0645 France Business climate

1230 U.S. Import/export prices

1300 U.S. FHFA home price index

1400 Euro zone Consumer confidence

1400 U.S. Employment trend index

1430 U.S. EIA weekly crude stocks

(Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin)