Market Economics reported U.S. manufacturing got off to a "strong" start in January with new orders growing at the fastest month-to-month pace in nearly three years. The Conference Board said its Leading Economic Index climbed 0.5 percent in December to 93.9.
The Labor Department said first-time unemployment benefit claims dropped by 5,000 to 330,000 in the week ending Saturday, maintaining the figure at a pre-recession level.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil added 23 cents to $95.90 per barrel. Gasoline added 1.54 cents to $2.8675 a gallon. Home heating oil gained 1.4 cents to $3.074 a gallon.
Natural gas shed 10.3 cent to $3.469 per million British thermal units.
At the pump, AAA reported the national average retail price for regular unleaded gasoline rose to $3.321 per gallon from Wednesday's $3.316.
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