NYMEX-U.S. crude near two-week lows, oil inventories hit record

SINGAPORE, April 24 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures held near a two-week low below $102 a barrel in early Asian trade on Thursday after oil stockpiles in the world's biggest oil consumer rose last week to their highest levels since records began in 1982.

U.S. crude gained 14 cents to $101.58 a barrel by 0028 GMT, after settling 31 cents lower in the previous session. Brent futures gained 11 cents to $109.22 after ending 16 cents down.


U.S. crude inventories rose by 3.5 million barrels in the week ending April 18, Energy Information Administration data (EIA) showed on Wednesday, well above analysts' expectations of a 2.3 million-barrel build. At 397.7 million barrels, they are at their highest since 1982, when the EIA began collecting data.

Oil exports from Iraq's southern terminals are heading for a record high in April, according to loading data and industry sources, reflecting Iraq's efforts to expand capacity and deliver supply growth in 2014.

India is set to pay Iran $1.65 billion over the next three months under an interim nuclear deal that eases sanctions on Tehran and gives it access to $4.2 billion in blocked funds, four sources with knowledge of the matter said.

European and Russian officials will meet this week and next for emergency talks to try to prevent Moscow cutting off gas supply to Ukraine, as Europe explores how to pump more gas to the struggling country.

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to their lowest level in eight months in March, dashing hopes for a quick turnaround for a sector that fell into a soft patch last summer.


Asian markets could get a lift on Thursday after tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook beat Wall Street expectations, sending their stock up sharply and boosting Nasdaq futures.

The results came out after the close on Wednesday so could not stop the major U.S. indices from ending in the red, but futures pointed to a bounce on Thursday. The Nasdaq futures were up 1 percent and the S&P 500 0.3 percent.


* The following data is expected on Thursday:

- 0645 France Business climate April

- 0800 Germany If business climate April

- 1230 U.S. Durable goods orders March

- 1230 U.S. Weekly jobless claims

(Reporting by Manash Goswami; Editing by Richard Pullin)