RTTNews - Crude oil added to its best close since October as the International Energy Agency raised its demand expectations for the year. A weaker dollar also boosted the precious metal's hedge appeal.

Light sweet crude oil for July delivery settled at $72.68 per barrel, up $1.35 for the day, extending its highest close since October. Earlier in the day, oil reached as high as $73.23.

This morning, the IEA announced it raised its 2009 demand estimate to 83.3 million barrels per day, up 120,000 barrels from last month's forecast.

Tomorrow, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to announce its Monthly Oil Market Report.

Earlier this week, the Energy Information Administration boosted its expectations for the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil to an average of $67 per barrel for the second half of 2009. This is up about $16 compared with the first half of the year.

EIA data released Wednesday showed U.S. commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 4.4 million barrels in the week ended June 5. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.6 million barrels last week.

The dollar saw weakness against its major rivals on Thursday in New York. The buck turned to the downside against the euro and crossed the 1.4000 mark again. The buck also fell against the sterling and tested a seven-month low.

In economic news on Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department revealed that initial jobless claims came in at 601,000 for the week ended at June 6, down down 24,000 from last week.

Meanwhile, a Commerce Department report showed that retail sales rose 0.5 percent in May following a revised 0.2 percent decrease in April. Economists had expected sales to increased by 0.5 percent.

Later in the morning, a Commerce Department report showed that business inventories fell 1.1 percent in April following a revised 1.3 percent decrease in March. Economists had expected the drop in inventories to match the 1.0 percent decrease originally reported for the previous month.

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