Commodity Corner: Oil Rises on Economic Data

Propelled by forecasts that better days—and improved petroleum demand—are ahead for the global economy during the second half of this year, oil prices ended the day higher Thursday.

The front-month WTI contract price rose 2.09 percent Thursday, settling at $98.67 a barrel. Positive employment news contributed to the increase. According to the U.S. Labor Department, claims for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000—the lowest level in seven weeks. Meanwhile, payroll processor ADP said private-sector employment grew by 157,000 jobs last month. This is more than double of what economic experts had anticipated.

In addition, top U.S. retailers reported better-than-average sales for the month of June.

Light, sweet crude oil futures traded between $96.99 and $99.42—the highest intraday since June 15.

Its European counterpart gained nearly 5 dollars, settling at $118.59 per barrel on the ICE futures exchange. Brent prices fluctuated between $114.20 and $118.68 Thursday.

Natural gas for August delivery fell 8.8 cents Thursday on EIA reports. The U.S. Energy Information Agency reported a 634,000 barrel-decline in gasoline stocks, while distillate stocks fell by 191,000 barrels. Prices for natural gas peaked at $4.25 and bottomed out at $4.11, before settling at $4.138 per thousand cubic feet.

Gasoline futures added 9.23 cents a gallon, ending the trading session at $3.09 a gallon.