RTTNews - Oil dropped to its lowest level in nearly a month on Thursday as a disappointing employment report sparked demand concerns. Crude finished in negative territory for a third straight session.

Light sweet crude oil for August delivery settled at $66.73 per barrel, down $2.58. This marks the lowest close since June 3. Oil hit as low as $66.50 in intraday trading.

Labor Department data revealed non-farm payroll employment fell by 467,000 jobs in June following a revised decrease of 322,000 jobs in May. Economists predicted a decrease of about 365,000 jobs compared to the loss of 345,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report showed initial jobless claims fell to 614,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 630,000. Economists predicted claims to fall to 615,000 from the 627,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Later in the morning, the Commerce Department report showed that orders for manufactured goods rose 1.2 percent in May following a downwardly revised 0.5 percent increase in April. Economists had expected orders to rise 0.9 percent compared to the 0.7 percent increase.

A stronger U.S. dollar reduced the hedge appeal of commodities. The greenback touched above 1.4000 against the euro and also climbed higher against the pound. With stocks lower, traders favored lower-yielding currencies.

Natural gas for August delivery dropped 4.7 cents to $3.615 per million British thermal units. Energy Information Administration data released Thursday morning showed stockpiles increased 70 billion cubic feet last week.

Investors continued to consider EIA inventory data from yesterday that showed crude oil inventories decreased by 3.7 million barrels from the previous week. Experts predicted a decline of about 2.2 million barrels.

Following the report, crude oil closed at $69.31 per barrel, down 58 cents on the choppy session.

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