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Positive Jobless Data Helps Push Crude Oil Futures Higher

Crude oil futures trimmed losses on Thursday, briefly rising above USD95 a barrel after official data showed that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week declined, while weakness in the U.S. dollar supported prices.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in August traded at USD94.95 a barrel during European morning trade, edging 0.13% lower.         

It earlier fell as much as 0.95% to hit a daily low of USD94.15 a barrel.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Department of Labor said earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending June 24 declined by 1K to a seasonally adjusted 428K, after rising by 429K in the previous week.

Continuing jobless claims fell by 12K to 3.702 million from a revised 3.714 million in the preceding week.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was down 0.2% to trade at 74.86, hovering close to a three-week low.

Dollar-denominated oil futures contracts tend to rise when the dollar falls, as this makes oil cheaper for buyers in other currencies.

Meanwhile, concerns over a slowdown in demand from the world’s largest oil consumer eased after official data showed that U.S. crude oil inventories declined by 4.4 million barrels last week, nearly tripling expectations for a 1.5 million barrel decline. 

Total motor gasoline inventories unexpectedly declined by 1.4 million barrels, confounding expectations for a 0.8 million barrel increase.

Energy traders have been closely eyeing gasoline stockpiles as the U.S. driving season entered its peak gasoline demand period.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for August delivery fell 0.38% to trade at USD112.08 a barrel, up USD17.13 on its U.S. counterpart.

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