Crude oil prices finished another choppy session higher on Thursday. However, oil continued to fail to hold above $50 per barrel
Light sweet crude for May delivery ended at $49.98, up 73 cents for the session. Oil touched as high as $50.48 but later fell as as low as $49.11.
On the economic front Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that initial jobless claims fell to 610,000 for the week ended April 11th, down 53,000 from the previous week's revised figure. The 4-week moving average for initial claims, a statistic that flattens out week-to-week fluctuations in the data, dipped 8,500 to a level of 651,000.
Meanwhile, a Commerce Department report showed that housing starts fell 10.8 percent to an annual rate of 510,000 in March from the revised February estimate of 572,000. Economists had expected starts to slip to 540,000 from the 583,000 originally reported for the previous month.
Later in the morning, the Philly Fed said its index of activity in the sector rose to a negative 24.4 in April from a negative 35.0 in March, with a negative reading indicating a contraction in the sector. Economists had expected a more modest increase to a negative 32.0.
Crude oil prices slipped 15 cents on Wednesday as traders mulled over a report released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration revealing inventories increased again in the recent week.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 5.6 million barrels for the week ended April 10, according to the EIA report. Experts were looking for a build of 2.5 million barrels.
Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 900,000 barrels last week, which is generally in-line with analysts' expectations of a 960,000 drop.
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