SEOUL, Nov 20 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures eased on
Tuesday as the U.S. dollar firmed against the euro after Moody's
downgraded France's sovereign rating, but the fall was limited
by festering tensions in the Middle East.
* U.S. crude oil had dropped 29 cents to $88.99 a
barrel by 0031 GMT, after settling up $2.36 at $89.28 a barrel
in the previous session.
* Brent futures settled up $2.75 at $111.70 a barrel
on Monday after hitting their highest since Oct. 19 at $112.20.
* Moody's Investors Service downgraded France's sovereign
rating by one notch to Aa1 from Aaa, the agency said on Monday,
citing the country's uncertain fiscal outlook as a result of
"deteriorating economic prospects".
A stronger dollar makes greenback-denominated commodities
less appealing to holders of other currencies.
* Euro zone finance ministers will give a tentative go-ahead
for the disbursement of 44 billion euros in emergency loans to
Greece on Tuesday, but the money will only be paid on Dec. 5 if
the country meets all remaining conditions.
* Greece approved laws on Monday to enforce budget targets
and ensure privatisation proceeds are used to pay off debt.
* In the oil-pumping Middle East, Israel bombed dozens more
targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday and said that, while it was
prepared to step up its offensive by sending in troops, it
preferred a diplomatic solution that would end Palestinian
* Leading U.S. lawmakers expressed confidence on Sunday that
they could reach a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" even as they
laid down markers on taxes and spending that may make any
agreement more difficult.
* U.S. home resales rose in October and a gauge of
homebuilder sentiment climbed to a six-year high in November,
signs of surprising vigour in the country's still-struggling
* U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories were forecast to
have risen last week while distillate stockpiles were seen
falling, a preliminary Reuters poll of four analysts showed on
* The euro slid lower against the U.S. dollar after France's
downgrade. The euro slipped 0.27 percent to $1.2777
against the greenback on the news. Prior to the rating action
the euro was trading near a two-week high on the U.S. currency.
* U.S. stocks bounced higher for a second consecutive
session on Monday as investors were encouraged by the early
atmosphere surrounding talks to tackle the nation's fiscal
crunch. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.65
percent to 12,795.96, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 1.99 percent to 1,386.89.
* Japan's benchmark Nikkei average opened up 0.49
percent at 9,198.42 on Tuesday, with the broader Topix
gaining 0.64 percent to 767.05.
* The following data is expected on Tuesday (GMT):
Bank of Japan announces outcome of policy meeting
Eurogroup meeting, Brussels
0700 Germany Producer prices Oct
1245 U.S. ICSC weekly chain store sales
1330 U.S. Building permits Oct
1330 U.S. Housing starts Oct
1715 U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke speaks
2130 U.S. API weekly crude stocks
(Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Joseph Radford)