NEW YORK, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A gain in weekly U.S. unemployment claims and cost-cutting from heavy machine company Caterpillar pushed crude oil prices lower in early Thursday trading.
Brent crude oil prices opened trading in New York relatively unchanged from the previous session to $47.76 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude oil prices, lost about three tenths of a percent to open the day at $44.48.
Anemic global economic growth and higher oil production has pushed crude oil markets toward the supply side, leaving oil prices down about 50 percent from last year.
The U.S. Labor Department reported initial claims for unemployment for the week ending Sept. 19 increased 3,000 from the previous week to 267,000.
In a possible indicator of spillover from the weak oil economy, heavy machine company Caterpillar announced it would cut at least 4,000 from its workforce and consider eliminating a total of more than 10,000 through 2018.
"We are facing a convergence of challenging marketplace conditions in key regions and industry sectors -- namely in mining and energy," Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said in a statement.
On the supply side, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported total U.S. crude oil production at 9.1 million barrels per day for the week ending Sept. 18, an increase of two tenths of a percent from the previous week.
"The trend of China's economy toward growth and expansion has not changed," he said.
Weak data and a series of heavy losses on the Shanghai Composite Index are indicators the economy in China, one of the world's leading consumers, is slowing down.