New York - The price of oil rose above $91 a barrel on Thursday on a positive signal from the US jobs market. Natural gas rose three percent as supplies dropped more than expected.
Benchmark oil for April delivery gained 65 cents to $91.08 a barrel in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas futures jumped 11 cents to $3.58 per 1 000 cubic feet.
The four-week average for applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week to its lowest level in five years, the Labour Department said on Thursday. A government report on Friday is expected to show that employers in the US, the biggest consumer of oil and petroleum products, added 152 000 jobs last month.
Some support for crude came from a weaker dollar, which makes oil cheaper and a more enticing investment for traders using other currencies. On Thursday, the euro was up to $1.3087 from $1.2974 late on Wednesday in New York.
Oil is still down about six percent over the past three weeks.
Meanwhile, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas in storage shrank by 146 billion cubic feet to 2.083 trillion cubic feet in the week ended March 1. Analysts expected a draw of 130 billion to 134 billion cubic feet. Natural gas supplies are now 15 percent below year-ago levels, a sign that the US is whittling away at a surplus that pushed natural gas prices down to decade lows a year earlier.
Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by US refineries, fell five cents at $111.01 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. - Sapa-AP