NYMEX-U.S. crude steadies as market eyes lower oil stocks
SINGAPORE Jan 3 (Reuters) - U.S. oil futures nudged slightly higher on Friday, steadying after a steep fall on expectations that weekly crude stocks data due later in the day will show a continuing decline in inventory levels.
The rise came after U.S. oil futures fell 3 percent in the previous session - the largest one-day percentage drop since November 2012 - as Libya prepared to restart a key oil field.
A decrease in U.S. jobless claims and an increase in manufacturing activity strengthened the U.S. dollar, also put pressure on oil prices on Thursday.
* U.S. crude for February delivery edged up 4 cents to $95.48 a barrel by 0026 GMT, after sliding $2.98 to $95.44 a barrel on Thursday.
* Brent crude for February delivery had yet to start trading. Brent dropped $3.02 a barrel to $107.78 on Thursday, the largest one-day percentage drop since late June,
* A powerful snow storm hit the northeast United States on Thursday, causing flights to be cancelled and forced people to stay home, cutting fuel demand and weighing on oil futures.
* Libya hopes to resume production at one of its largest oilfields, El Sharara, within three days, but three oil ports are likely to remain blocked, officials said on Thursday.
* Indonesia's output of liquefied natural gas is expected to rise nearly 6 percent in 2014, although shipments by the world's fifth largest exporter will hold steady, its energy regulator said on Thursday.
* The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.2 percent on Friday as Asian markets went on the defensive.
* The following data is expected on Friday:
- 0500 GMT U.S. total monthly vehicle sales
- 1530 GMT U.S. EIA weekly natural gas stocks
- 1600 GMT U.S. EIA weekly crude stocks
- 1600 GMT U.S. EIA weekly dist. stocks
- 1600 GMT U.S. EIA weekly gasoline stocks
(Reporting By Keith Wallis; Editing by Richard Pullin)