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Oil rises on good U.S. labor figures

Prices recover some lost ground, though market conditions remain largely unchanged.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Oil rises on good U.S. labor figures
Crude oil prices recover some lost ground on signs U.S. economy is improving, though fundamental market factors still hold. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Signs of steady growth in the U.S. economy lifted crude oil prices in early Thursday trading, though the market still heavily favors the supply side.

The U.S. Labor Department published data Thursday that show the number of applications for unemployment assistance fell 11,000 last week to a seasonally-adjusted 271,000. New claims for protection have been at or near historic lows for much of the year.

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Signs of a healthy labor market followed a decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. In a statement, the bank said it "expects that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will continue to expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will continue to strengthen."

Crude oil prices recovered ground lost during previous sessions in early Thursday trading in New York. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, gained about 0.3 percent to start the day at $35.63. Brent soared 1.1 percent to sell for $37.81 per barrel.

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Both indices are coming off a week of strong volatility, though each are down more than 3 percent for the week. Crude oil prices are lower by 40 percent year-on-year as the steady, but slow, global economic growth isn't enough to keep up with production gains from North America and members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Energy reporting group Platts, in an emailed note, said OPEC production of 31.2 million barrels per day in November was a 0.3 percent gain from the previous month. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude oil inventories grew by 4.8 million barrels from last week and domestic crude oil production increased 0.13 percent from the previous week to 9.17 million bpd.

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