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Oil prices recover on US jobless data


Oil prices rebounded slightly Thursday on positive US jobs data and from sharp falls in previous days amid weaker global demand for crude.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June jumped $1.06 to $101.01 a barrel in late London trading.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for June grew 82 cents to $91.85 a barrel.

"After precipitous falls in the past two days we've seen a little bit of a bounce back in both Brent and WTI oil prices, no doubt helped by the better-than-expected US jobless claims data," said Michael Hewson, senior analyst at CMC Markets trading group.

New claims for US unemployment benefits fell for last week to a five-year low, the US Labor Department said Thursday.

Initial jobless claims, an indicator of the pace of layoffs, fell by 18,000 to 324,000 in the week ending April 27, the department said.

That was the lowest level since mid-January 2008, when claims totalled 321,000. Analysts on average had expected claims to rise to 346,000.

Oil prices had meanwhile closed down by more than $2.40 Wednesday on fresh signs of economic weakness in the United States and China -- the world's largest crude consumers.

A US oil inventory report on Wednesday showed crude stocks increasing by 6.7 million barrels for the week ending April 26, far above the 800,000-barrel forecast by analysts.

This brought inventory stocks to a 395.3-million total, the highest weekly figure since the US Energy Information Administration began collecting the data in 1982.

A rise in inventory stocks indicates weak energy demand and puts a downward pressure on prices.

Separate data this week has showed a slowdown for US and Chinese manufacturing activity.