Crude prices rise on data, forecasts
Crude oil prices were higher Thursday after the US Labor Department’s weekly report on unemployment and after the International Monetary Fund issued a revised forecast on global economic growth.
The Labor Department said that new filings for jobless claims were down 21,000 last week to 454,000, more of a decline than had been expected.
Meanwhile, the IMF projected that the global economy will grow by 4.6 percent this year, up from its previous forecast of 4.2 percent growth, issued in April.
The IMF also revised its forecast for US economic growth from 2.7 percent to 3.3 percent, and said that China’s economy will grow by 10.5 percent rather than by 10 percent in 2010, significant for oil prices because the US and China are the world’s two biggest consumers of oil.
The US Energy Information Administration reported that US inventories of crude oil were down by 5 million barrels last week to 358.2 million barrels, still 3.1 percent higher than last year at the same time, while gasoline stockpiles added 1.3 million barrels last week, up 3 percent from last year, and distillates in storage were up by 300,000 barrels.
Most of the decline in crude stockpiles was accounted for by supply interruptions caused by Hurricane Alex, which did not do damage to rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, but spurred precautionary evacuations of some facilities.
In early afternoon trade in New York, August contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude had added $1.17 to $75.24 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while at last report Brent crude was up $1.01 to $74.52 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.
Nymex August gasoline futures were a cent higher to $2.04 per gallon while August heating oil futures gained 2 cents to $2 per gallon.
The EIA also reported natural gas inventory data, which showed that inventories added 78 billion cubic feet last week, more than expected and more than gains in the same week last year but below the five year average gain for the week for 80 billion cubic feet.
The addition brought total natural gas in storage in the US to 2.762 trillion cubic feet, 11.5 percent above the five year average of 2.477 trillion cubic feet and sent Nymex August natural gas futures 19 cents lower to $4.38 per million British thermal units.
The retail price of a gallon of gasoline in the US was down 0.4 cent overnight to $2.717 per gallon on average, down 3.7 cents in the past week.
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