Investing.com - West Texas Intermediate oil futures shook off earlier weakness to trade modestly higher on Thursday, after data showed that service sector activity in the U.S. grew in March.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. crude oil for delivery in May traded at $99.71 a barrel during U.S. morning hours, up 0.09%, or 9 cents.
Nymex oil held in a range between $99.08 a barrel and $99.79 a barrel. The May contract fell to $98.86 a barrel on Wednesday, the lowest since March 25, before settling at $99.62, down 0.12%, or 12 cents.
Futures were likely to find support at $98.82 a barrel, the low from March 25 and resistance at $101.57 a barrel, the high from April 1.
The Institute of Supply Management said its non-manufacturing purchasing manager''s index rose to 53.1 last month from a reading of 51.6 in February. Analysts had expected the index to increase to 53.5 in March.
A separate report showed that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits increased by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000 last week from the previous week’s revised total of 310,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 7,000 to 317,000 last week.
Market players now looked ahead to Friday’s highly-anticipated nonfarm payrolls report for March for further indications on the strength of the economy and the future course of monetary policy.
Meanwhile, in the euro zone, the ECB held its benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.25%, in line with expectations.
Speaking at the ECB’s post-policy meeting press conference, Draghi said that quantitative easing, or QE, was discussed as part of an “ample” and “rich” discussion by the Governing Council.
Draghi also says the exchange rate is an increasingly important reference point for policy makers.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for May delivery eased up 0.42%, or 43 cents, to trade at $105.23 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at $5.52 a barrel.
London-traded Brent futures fell to a five-month low of $103.95 a barrel on Wednesday, amid expectations oil exports from Libya will begin picking up in the near-term.
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