US jobless claims help crude prices
Crude oil prices were a bit higher Thursday as the US dollar weakened and as new jobless claims in the United States were reported lower last week.
The US Labor Department reported that there were 31,000 fewer new filings for unemployment benefits last week, to 473,000 new claims, the first decline in a month.
In addition, buyers took advantage of lower prices as they hunted for bargains after several sessions of declines.
October contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude added 73 cents to $73.25 per barrel at just past 1 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude was last reported up $1.35 to $74.83 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.
Nymex September gasoline futures were up 3 cents to $1.90 per gallon while September heating oil futures also gained 3 cents, to $2 per gallon, but September natural gas futures dropped 5 cents to $3.82 per million British thermal units after the US Energy Information Administration reported that inventories were up last week.
The EIA said that US natural gas inventories added 40 billion cubic feet to stockpiles last week, at the high end of projections that inventories would rise by between 27 and 41 billion cubic feet.
Last year stockpiles were up by 53 billion cubic feet, and the five-year average rise for the week is 59 billion cubic feet, but while it was the tenth consecutive week of gains at or below forecasts, prices have continued to decline on production figures.
The retail price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was down a bit less than a cent to $2.688 per gallon on average nationally in the United States, and is now down 5.4 cents from last week’s prices but still 6.6 cents higher than last year at the same time.
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