Investing.com - West Texas Intermediate oil futures eased down modestly on Thursday, while Brent futures rose to a nine-month high amid ongoing concerns over a disruption to supplies from Iraq.
On the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for August delivery rallied to a daily high of $114.96 a barrel, the most since September 9, before trimming gains to last trade at $114.89 during U.S. morning hours, up 0.55%, or 62 cents.
Concerns about potential supply disruptions due to fighting in Iraq lingered, as the conflict between Sunni Islamist insurgents and Iraqi army forces continued on Thursday.
Fighting in the Iraqi city of Baquba, located to the northeast of Baghdad, shut down the country''s biggest oil refinery on Wednesday.
Iraq produced approximately 3.5 million barrels a day of oil last month, making it OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer behind Saudi Arabia.
Elsewhere, on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in August dipped 0.03%, or 4 cents, to trade at $105.55 a barrel.
Data released earlier showed that manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia-region expanded at a faster rate than expected in June.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index improved to a reading of 17.8 this month from May’s reading of 15.4. Analysts had expected the index to dip to 14.0 in June.
A separate report showed that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending June 14 declined by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 312,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 318,000.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 4,000 to 314,000 last week.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut its bond purchases by another $10 billion a month to $35 billion, saying there was "sufficient underlying strength" in the U.S. economy to continue tapering.
Despite this, the Fed also lowered its forecast for growth this year to a range of 2.1% to 2.3% from 2.8 to 3.0% previously, due to "unexpected contractions" in the first quarter as a result of the unusually harsh winter.
The central bank said it expects the federal-funds rate, currently close to zero, to reach 1.2% by the end of next year and 2.5% by the end of 2016, a slightly faster rate of tightening than formerly expected. The forecast however did not bring forward the timing for the first rate hike.