Crude ends higher pre-holiday, posts weekly gain
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crude futures rose on Thursday after two straight days of losses as data showing a drop in U.S. jobless claims combined with uncertainty about supply disruptions to prompt short-covering ahead of a long holiday weekend.
Data showing initial jobless benefits claims fell to the lowest level in nearly four years last week arrived a day ahead of the closely watched U.S. March nonfarm payrolls report, expected to show a gain of 203,000 jobs, including a rise in private payrolls.
The West's tightening sanctions hampering Iran's oil exports and the uncertainty ahead of talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear program expected to be held at midmonth also helped support crude prices.
Crude futures fell more than 2 percent on Wednesday after data showed a sharp rise in U.S. crude stocks last week, a jump of 9.0 million barrels.
The CME Group's (CME.O: Quote) New York Mercantile Exchange will not have an open outcry session or trading on the Globex electronic trading platform on Friday, observing an Easter holiday.
Trading will resume at the normal 6:00 p.m. EDT (10.00 p.m. GMT) on Sunday for trade date Monday, April 9.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, May crude rose $1.84, or 1.81 percent, to settle at $103.31 a barrel, having traded from $101.37 to $103.40.
For the week, U.S. crude gained 29 cents, or 0.28 percent. Continued...