Investing.com - U.S. oil futures rallied to a one-month high on Thursday, after data showed that U.S. jobless claims fell more-than-expected last week and as the U.S. dollar weakened against the euro following comments by European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March rose to USD98.82 a barrel, the highest since January 2, before trimming gains to trade at USD98.45 a barrel during U.S. morning hours, up 1.1%.
WTI oil prices settled 0.2% higher on Wednesday to end at USD97.38 a barrel.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD96.83 a barrel, the low from February 5 and resistance at USD98.96 a barrel, the high from January 2.
The Labor Department said U.S. initial jobless claims fell by 20,000 to 331,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 351,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 16,000.
A separate report showed that the U.S. trade deficit widened 12% to USD38.7 billion in December, as exports dropped 2.2% and imports rose 1.6%.
Oil received additional support after the euro surged against the U.S. dollar following dovish comments made by ECB President Mario Draghi.
Speaking at the ECB’s post-policy meeting press conference, Draghi reiterated that euro zone borrowing costs will remain at their present or lower levels until conditions improve.
Draghi said that the bank was monitoring money markets closely and that it is determined to take decisive actions if required.
His comments came after the ECB held its benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.25%, in line with expectations.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for March delivery inched up 0.65% to trade at USD106.94 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at USD8.49 a barrel.
The spread between the two contracts narrowed to a four-month low as the Keystone XL pipeline linking Cushing, Oklahoma, to the U.S. Gulf Coast began making deliveries last month. Flows will rise over the course of the year toward its 700,000-barrel capacity, which should help alleviate a glut of crude in the Midwest.
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