Crude oil added to its highest close since November but gave back most of its gains from earlier in the day as stocks turned lower. Oil earlier climbed above $58 on hopes the recession is coming to and end and energy demand will improve.

Light sweet crude for June delivery climbed to $56.71 per barrel, up 37 cents on the session. Prices touched as high as $58.57, the highest intraday level for a front-month contract since November 17, but later touched as low as $55.46.

Oil has gained $3.51 this week as global stocks have improved. On a longer-term basis, crude has been trending to the upside for a little more than two weeks.

Thursday, traders considered several economic reports on Thursday. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims, a closely-watched gauge of layoffs, dropped to 601,000 for the week ended May 2nd. This was down 34,000 from the previous week's revised total of 635,000.

A separate Labor Department report showed that productivity rose 0.8 percent in the first quarter following a revised 0.6 percent decrease in the fourth quarter. Economists had expected productivity to rise 0.6 percent compared to the 0.4 percent decrease originally reported for the previous quarter.

Crude oil added $2.50 on Wednesday after Energy Information Administration data showed U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased by 600,000 barrels from the previous week. Experts were looking for a build of about 2.2 million barrels.

Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 200,000 barrels last week.

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