TOKYO, March 1 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures were steady on Thursday after gaining half a percent the previous day, spurred by data showing a modest expansion in the U.S. economy that raised hopes for oil demand in the world’s top oil consumer.
* NYMEX crude for April delivery was up 1 cent at $107.08 a barrel by 0016 GMT, after settling up 52 cents at $107.07 on Wednesday.
The Federal Reserve Beige Book report showed late on Wednesday that the U.S. economy expanded modestly in January through mid-February.
For the month, U.S. crude gained $8.59, or 8.7 percent, rebounding after two straight months of losses, and wrapping up its best performance since October.
* London Brent crude for April delivery was still untraded after it settled up $1.11 at $122.66.
* Oil-consuming nations have no need to release stockpiles as they do not face a supply crunch, EU officials and the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday, after Washington announced it may use stocks to stem soaring gasoline prices.
* The U.S. economy expanded at a 3 percent annual rate, the quickest pace since the second quarter of 2010, the Commerce Department said in its second estimate.
* U.S. crude inventories leaped 4.16 million barrels in the week to Feb. 24, up for a second straight week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said, dwarfing analysts’ forecast in a Reuters poll for a 1.1 million barrel rise.
Gasoline stocks fell 1.6 million barrels and distillate stockpiles fell 2.07 million barrels, the EIA said.
* Western sanctions have already disrupted Iran’s oil flows as U.S. and European companies refuse to insure deliveries, according to a U.S. EIA report on Wednesday obtained by Reuters.
* Output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries rose last month to its highest since October 2008 due to a further recovery in Libya’s production and higher supplies from Angola and Saudi Arabia, a Reuters survey showed.
* U.S. oil demand in December was stronger than expected but remained significantly lower than a year earlier, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
* U.S. stocks slipped on Wednesday, snapping a four-day winning streak, after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke disappointed investors hoping for a strong signal of more stimulus.
* The euro and commodity currencies nursed heavy losses in Asia on Thursday as investors cut bullish positions after key events, including the European Central Bank’s cash injection, passed without surprise.
* The following data is expected on Thursday: (Time in GMT)
- 2350 Japan Business capex/Q4
- 0858 Euro Zone Markit Mfg PMI/Feb
- 1000 Euro Zone Inflation/Feb
- 1000 Euro Zone Unemployment rate/Jan
- 1330 US Consumption/Jan
- 1330 US Initial jobless claims
- 1500 US ISM Manufacturing PMI/Feb
- 1530 US EIA underground natural gas stocks (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)