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Crude oil futures trim gains after U.S. jobless claims data

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Shutterstock photo - Crude oil futures trimmed gains in volatile trade during U.S. morning hours on Thursday, after official data showed that the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. rose more-than-expected last week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in June traded at USD87.50 a barrel during U.S. morning trade, up 0.6% on the day.

New York-traded oil prices fell by as much as 1.2% earlier in the session to hit a daily low of USD85.92 a barrel, the weakest level since December 13, before recovering by as much as 1.6% to touch a session high of USD88.41 a barrel.

The Department of Labor said earlier that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits last week rose by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 352,000, compared to expectations for an increase of 2,000 to 350,000.

Jobless claims for the preceding week were revised up to 348,000 from a previously reported increase of 346,000.

Oil traders have been paying close attention to readings on U.S. employment levels because they offer insight into the economic health of the world's largest crude oil consumer.

Oil prices fell to a four-month low earlier in the session as investors remained worried over the global economic outlook and its impact on future oil demand.

Concerns over the global economic outlook intensified earlier in the week after the International Monetary Fund cut its 2013 forecast for global growth to 3.3%, down from its January projection of 3.5%.

The growth projection for China was trimmed to 8% from 8.2%, while the growth outlook for the U.S. was lowered to 1.9% from 2%.

The U.S. and China are the world's two largest oil consuming nations.

Prices came off the lows as market players returned to the market to seek cheap valuations amid speculation prices fell too far too quick.

Nymex oil prices have lost nearly 9%, or almost USD9 per barrel, since April 11.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for June delivery was up 0.6% to trade at USD98.31 a barrel, with the spread between the Brent and crude contracts standing at USD10.81 a barrel, the smallest gap since January 2012.

London-traded Brent futures fell to a session low of USD96.76 a barrel earlier in the day, the weakest level since July 2.

The European benchmark has been under heavy selling pressure in recent sessions, amid growing concerns over the euro zone's economic outlook.

The IMF said earlier in the week that the euro zone remains the weakest part of the global economy. The 17 countries using the euro accounted for about 12% of world demand last year. - 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.

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