RTTNews - Oil finished mildly higher amid choppy trading on Thursday as the weekly employment report sparked hopes the economy could improve. The daily gain was the first in six for crude oil.

Light sweet crude for August climbed to $60.41 per barrel, up 27 cents on the session. Earlier, oil touched a multi-month low of $59.25.

Despite the modest recovery, crude remains down more than $9 in July. Prices have tumbled amid worries the recession will linger, further hampering energy demand. Oil has lost nearly 60% from the record $147.27 reached in July 2008.

Energy Department data released Wednesday showed crude oil inventories decreased by 2.9 million barrels in the week ended July 3. Experts were expecting to see supplies dropped 3.2 million barrels. Gasoline inventories rose by 1.9 million barrels and distillate fuel inventories climbed by 3.7 million barrels.

The dollar dropped to a weekly low against the euro, after hitting a two-week high the day before. The greenback moved into negative territory against the pound. A weaker dollar helps oil's value as a hedge investment.

At the Group of Eight meeting in Italy, there was no mention of the greenback in a draft declaration on the international monetary system released Thursday, despite rumors that Group of Eight leaders meeting in Italy would discuss an alternative to the dollar as the world's main reserve currency.

Natural gas prices finished at $3.408 per million British thermal units, up 5.5 cents on the session. EIA data showed natural gas stockpiles increased 75 billion cubic feet in the week ended July 3.

In economic news, a Labor Department report revealed jobless claims fell to 565,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 617,000. Economists had been expecting a more modest decrease to 603,000 from the 614,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Later, the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories fell 0.8 percent in May following a revised 1.3 percent decrease in April. Economists had expected inventories to fall by 1.0 percent compared to the 1.4 drop originally reported for the previous month.

Gasoline prices slipped to $2.58 per regular unleaded gallon in the U.S., according to AAA data. A year ago, prices sat at $4.018.

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