RTTNews - Crude oil prices finished little-changed on Thursday as a stronger-than expected employment report offset a stronger dollar and a report that Kuwait's oil minister said OPEC isn't likely to cut production next month.

Light sweet crude oil settled at $71.94 per barrel, down 3 cents on the session. Earlier, oil had dropped below the $71 mark.

In economic news, a Labor Department report showed that initial jobless claims fell to 550,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 588,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to edge down to 580,000 from the 584,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Labor Department's jobs report is scheduled for release at 8:30 a.m. ET. Non-farm payrolls are predicted to fall 328,000 for July, compared to a drop of 467,000 in June. The unemployment rate is expected to rise to 9.6%, compared to 9.5% a month ago.

Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah al-Sabah said OPEC may leave output as in following its next meeting on September 9 in Vienna. The cartel had cut production by more than 4 million barrels late last year.

Oil gained against the euro and pound after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England both left interest rates unchanged. The dollar climbed off of a 7 1/2 month low against the euro and posted sharper gains against the pound, rising away from a 9 1/2-month low.

On Wednesday, Energy Information Administration data showed crude oil inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 200,000 barrels.

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