NEW YORK, July 23 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil futures settled at its lowest since April on Thursday and U.S. crude fell into bear market territory and ended below $49 a barrel for the first time since late March, as persistent concerns about ample supply and shaky demand offset support from the dollar's weakness.
U.S. crude's $48.45 a barrel settlement is down 21 percent from the June 10 close at $61.43 and a 20 percent downturn is considered by many traders to constitute a bear market.
The weaker dollar supported oil early, but the U.S. currency trimmed losses after a report showing tumbling jobless claims in the United States.
A weaker U.S. dollar makes greenback-denominated oil less expensive for consumers using other currencies.
The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level since 1973, suggesting a continuing solid pace for job growth.
"The dollar recovered from its lows and there is just a negative mood in commodities and for oil there is the worry that the global economy is going to affect demand," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
U.S. September crude fell 74 cents to settle at $48.45 a barrel, the lowest settlement since March 31.
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