Crude oil surged again on Thursday and recovered its losses from the previous session. The rally took prices to their highest level in more than 2 1/2 months.
Light sweet crude for May delivery climbed to $54.35, up $1.58 for the day. Oil hit as high as $54.66, its best mark since early January.
A Commerce Department report showed that fourth quarter gross domestic product fell by a revised 6.3 percent, compared to the preliminary estimate of a 6.2 percent decrease. Economists had been expecting GDP to be revised to show a somewhat steeper 6.6 percent contraction.
The U.S. Labor Department announced initial jobless claims rose to 652,000 for the week ended March 20th, compared to the previous week's level of 644,000. Meanwhile, people continuing to collect unemployment rose to 5.56 million in the most recent data, compared to the previous mark of 5.438 million.
At the pump, gasoline prices moved above the $2.00 mark, according to AAA. The average price of a regular gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $2.009, compared to the month-ago mark of $1.90. A year ago, prices were at $3.261.
Crude dropped to $52.77 a barrel yesterday, down $1.21. Oil slipped as low as $51.86 after touching as high as $54.18 earlier in the day.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased 3.3 million barrels in the week ended March 20. Analysts were expecting a rise of about 1.2 million barrels. The build is the 22nd in 26 weeks.At 356.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.
Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.6 million barrels.
The American Petroleum Institute reported Tuesday that crude oil inventories increased by 4.57 million barrels in the recent week. Gasoline inventories fell 805,000 barrels.
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