Oil Tops $99 On Inventories, U.S. Data

Oil Tops $99 On Inventories, U.S. Data
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Oil futures rose to over $99 a barrel Thursday, extending the prior session’s gains on a surprisingly deep inventory drop, getting an additional boost from positive data on U.S. jobs.

Oil for February delivery CL2G +0.85%  rose 98 cents, or 1%, to $99.65 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

On Wednesday, oil had jumped 1.5% to $98.67 a barrel after the Energy Information Administration said crude supplies for the week ended Dec. 16 dropped 10.6 million barrels versus analysts’ estimates of a 2.25 million decline.

“Oil prices are profiting from the unexpectedly strong inventory reduction in the U.S.,” wrote analysts at Commerzbank, noting the gains have narrowed the price difference between West Texas Intermediate and Brent oil, the European benchmark, to about $9.

Early Thursday, the Labor Department said the number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 364,000 in the week ended Dec. 17, the lowest since 2008 and better than economists’ expectations. 

“Commodities such as copper and crude oil continue to steadily climb, suggesting that sentiment toward the global economy, particularly the U.S., continues to improve on the back of another positive surprise in jobless claims,” wrote Colin Cieszynski, analyst at CMC Markets.

Oil slightly added to gains after a midmorning release of a consumer sentiment survey. A gauge of consumer sentiment reached 69.9 in the final reading for December compared with 64.1 in November, according to Thursday reports on the data from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters. 

Natural gas for January delivery NG12F +1.05% rose 3 cents, or 1%, to $3.19 per million British thermal units ahead of a weekly inventories report.

Analysts polled by Platts expect the EIA to report a net withdrawal from natural gas storage between 99 billion cubic feet (Bcf) and 103 Bcf for the week ending Dec. 16.

Laura Mandaro | Market News

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