RTTNews - Crude oil moved slightly higher on Thursday as some encouraging economic data boosted hopes of a speedier economic recovery.

Light sweet crude settled at $71.37, up 34 cents on the session. Prices traded as high as $71.75 and as low as $70.22 in the choppy session.

On the economic front, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose to 608,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 605,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 604,000 from the 601,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Later, a Commerce Department report revealed the leading indicators index rose 1.2 percent in May following an upwardly revised 1.1 percent increase in April. Economists had expected the index to increase by 1.0 percent.

At the same time, the Philly Fed said its index of activity in the manufacturing sector rose to a negative 2.2 in June from a negative 22.6 in May, although a negative reading still indicates a contraction. Economists had been expecting a reading of negative 17.0.

Oil is up 64 cents on the week after rising above $73 last week. Investors mulled Energy Information Administration data showed crude oil inventories decreased by 3.9 million barrels in the week ended June 12. Economists were looking for a decline of about 1.7 million barrels. However, motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.4 million barrels last week.

In other energy trading, natural gas dropped 16 cents to $4.093 per million units. EIA data released this morning showed weekly inventories gained 114 billion cubic feet last week, more than analysts had forecast.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com