SEOUL Jan 29 U.S. crude extended gains on Tuesday, holding just below a four-month high hit last week, after promising business spending data reinforced belief that a recovery in the world's top oil consumer was gaining traction.
* U.S. crude rose 9 cents to $96.53 a barrel as of 0106 GMT, less than 40 cents away from a 4-month top of $96.92 hit on Jan. 23. It settled up 56 cents at $96.44 a barrel in the previous session. Brent crude edged up 2 cents to $113.50, after closing up 20 cents at $113.48 a barrel.
* Hess Corp said on Monday that it will shut the 70,000-barrels-per-day Port Reading, New Jersey plant in late February, the latest plant to fall victim to weak profits in the Atlantic Basin. Front-month U.S. February gasoline futures , set to expire on Thursday, surged more than 2 percent on news.
* A gauge of U.S. business investment plans improved in December, a sign companies were betting the economy will pick up despite fears over tighter fiscal policy.
* The Federal Reserve, whose policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee concludes a two-day meeting on Wednesday, has said it expects to keep short-term interest rates exceptionally low to help support the economy.
* The world oil market should remain well supplied in 2013 and OPEC does not need to trim back its oil output OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said on Monday.
* Persisting tensions in the Middle East and Africa also supported oil. Iran said on Monday it had launched a live monkey into space, seeking to show off missile systems that have alarmed the West because the technology could potentially be used to deliver a nuclear warhead.
* Suspected Islamist militants attacked an oil pipeline in northern Algeria on Monday, killing two guards and wounding seven other people, a security source told Reuters.
* In Egypt, thousands of protesters ignored a curfew on Monday to take to the streets in cities along the Suez canal, defying a state of emergency imposed by Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to end days of violence that has killed at least 51 people.
* Asian shares rose on Tuesday after solid U.S. data, but investors remained cautious ahead of more U.S. economic reports and a Federal Reserve policy decision later in the week.
* The euro inched back to 121.95 yen after topping at 122.90, which was its highest since April 2011. Against the dollar, the euro pulled back a little to $1.3450, off an 11-month high of $1.3479 set on Friday.
* The following data is expected on Tuesday (GMT): 0700 Germany GFK Consumer sentiment 0745 France Consumer confidence 1245 U.S. ICSC weekly chain store sales 1355 U.S. Redbook weekly retail sales 1400 U.S. CaseShiller 1500 U.S. Consumer confidence 2130 U.S. API weekly crude stocks (Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
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