Investing.com - Crude oil futures rallied to the highest level since September during U.S. morning hours on Thursday, boosted by a broadly weaker U.S. dollar and following the release of robust Chinese trade data.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in February traded at USD94.04 a barrel during U.S. morning trade, up 1% on the day.
New York-traded oil prices rose by as much as 1.7% earlier in the day to hit a session high of USD94.69 a barrel, the strongest level since September 19.
Oil futures spiked to the highest levels of the session as the U.S. dollar came under heavy selling pressure after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi revealed the ECB was unanimous in its vote to leave interest rates unchanged.
Draghi's comments came after the ECB left rates on hold at a record low 0.75% earlier, in a widely anticipated decision.
Sentiment on the euro had been buoyed earlier after Spain saw borrowing costs fall sharply at an auction of government debt.
Elsewhere, Italy saw borrowing costs fall to the lowest level since January 2010 at an auction of 12-month government bonds.
Appetite for growth-linked assets improved after official data showed that China's trade surplus widened more-than-expected in December, adding to signs of recovery in the world's second largest economy.
Chinese exports grew 14.1% from a year earlier in December, blowing past expectations for a 5% gain and up from a 2.9% increase in November.
Imports expanded by 6% from a year earlier, beating expectations for a 3.5% increase and following on from zero growth the previous month.
China's imports of crude oil rose 1.3% last month to 23.67 million tons, according to the data.
China is the world's second largest oil consumer after the U.S. and has been the engine of strengthening demand.
The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.65% to trade at 80.11.
Oil prices typically strengthen when the U.S. currency weakens as the dollar-priced commodity becomes cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending January 5 rose by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 371,000, compared to expectations for a decline of 2,000 to 365,000.
Jobless claims for the preceding week were revised down to 367,000 from a previously reported 372,000,
Focus was expected to remain on the U.S. economy, as investors remained jittery over the longer term fiscal outlook, with negotiations on raising the U.S. debt ceiling still to come in February.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for February delivery rose 0.75% to trade at USD112.56 a barrel, with the spread between the Brent and crude contracts standing at USD18.52 a barrel.
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