TOKYO, Jan 14 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures were steady on Thursday after falling for three days in a row, hurt in part by builds in U.S. crude and distillate inventories despite colder weather.
* NYMEX crude for February delivery CLc1 was up 7 cents at $79.72 a barrel by 0010 GMT, after settling down $1.14 at $79.65 a day earlier.
On Wednesday, it touched an intraday low of $78.37, the lowest since Dec. 29.
* Wednesday's decline came after Energy Information Administration data showed U.S. crude stocks shot up by 3.7 million barrels last week, above the forecast rise of 1.2 million barrels in a Reuters poll. [EIA/S]
The stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, showed a surprise rise of 1.4 million barrels, although heating oil stocks dropped 1.1 million barrels due to a freeze in the U.S. Northeast market. Gasoline stocks rose a larger-than-expected 3.8 million barrels.
* Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) restored a delayed coking unit to normal operations on Tuesday at its 567,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Baytown, Texas, according to a notice filed on Wednesday with Texas pollution regulators. [ID:nN13196560]
* Temperatures in the northern United States will shift to above normal or even well above normal later this week and into next week, forecaster Telvent DTN said. [ID:nDTN528]
* U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday as investors bet on recently weakened technology and financial shares ahead of earnings from bellwethers Intel Corp (INTC.O) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), taking the Dow industrials to a fresh 15-month high.
* The dollar and the yen steadied on Thursday, having ceded ground in the previous session, while the Australian dollar retained gains ahead of a key jobs report due later in the session. [USD/]
* The following data is expected on Thursday:
- 0700 GMT--Germany CPI Final/Dec
- 1245 GMT--ECB Rate Decision/Jan
- 1330 GMT--U.S. Import-Export Prices/Dec.
- 1330 GMT--U.S. Retail Sales/Dec.
- 1330 GMT--U.S. Initial Jobless Benefit Claims/Wkly
- 1500 GMT--Business Inventories/Nov
- 1500 GMT--Philly Fed Bus Index (r)/Dec
- Feb 2010 ICE Brent Crude Futures Contract Expires
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PRICES Oil prices as of 0010 GMT Contract Mnth Price Change Day ago pct MA-20* NYMEX Contracts US Crude FEB0 $79.72 +0.07 -$1.14 -1.41% $78.10 Heat Oil FEB0 209.82 +0.36 -3.72 -1.75% 207.54 RBOB FEB0 205.90 -0.12 -3.76 -1.79% 201.29 Natgas FEB0 $5.742 +0.009 +$0.142 +2.54% $5.717 ICE Contracts Brent FEB0 -- +0.00 -$0.99 -1.25% $77.30 Gasoil FEB0 -- +0.00 -$22.25 -3.38% $627.86 Note: U.S. heating oil and RBOB gasoline contracts listed in cents per gallon. * = 20-day moving average for continuation month. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)