Crude up in choppy trading as market digests employment data

Shutterstock photo - Crude oil futures inched up in choppy trading on Thursday as traders bought and sold the commodity amid conflicting market currents fueled by rising U.S. jobless claims and rising private-sector hiring figures.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in February traded at USD93.15 a barrel on Thursday, up 0.03%, off from a session high of USD93.29 and up from an earlier session low of USD92.50.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the number of individuals filing initial jobless claims during in the week ending Dec. 29 rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, compared with expectations for a decline of 7,000 to 355,000.

Jobless claims for the preceding week were revised up to 362,000 from a previously reported 350,000.

The news on the labor front wasn't all bearish for crude, as other reports sent oil futures into positive territory.

Payroll processer ADP reported earlier that non-farm private employment rose by a seasonally adjusted 215,000 in December, beating market calls for an increase of 133,000.

November's figure was revised up to a gain of 148,000 from a previously reported increase of 118,000.

Market talk that the American Petroleum Institute's inventory data due out later Thursday will report falling stockpiles pushed up prices as well.

Official data is due out on Friday as is the December jobs report, which also kept traders on edge.

Friday's official stockpile report from the Energy Department could reveal that crude stockpiles fell by 1.9 million barrels last week.

Meanwhile, crude continued to see upward pressure after U.S. lawmakers struck a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

However, relief buying quickly waned as fears began to build that partisan brinkmanship will return when lawmakers debate raising the government's USD16.4 trillion debt ceiling, likely in February.

Worries the U.S. will see a repeat of the 2011 debt-ceiling debacle, when lawmakers waited until the last minute to raise the country's borrowing limit, narrowly avoiding default, kept many investors away from oil, a growth-sensitive asset.

Meanwhile on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for February delivery were down 0.17% at USD112.28 a barrel, up USD19.13 from its U.S. counterpart. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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