RTTNews - Crude oil turned to the upside after some early weakness Thursday and finished above the $62 a barrel mark. A better-than-expected employment report improved expectations for energy demand.

Light sweet crude oil for August settlement finished at $62.05 per barrel, up 51 cents on the session. Earlier, oil had hit as low as $60.29.

A Labor Department report showed that jobless claims fell to 522,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 569,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to fall to about 530,000 from the 565,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Later in the morning, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said its index of current activity fell to a negative 7.5 in July from a negative 2.2 in June, with a negative reading indicating a contraction in the sector. The index had been expected to slip to a reading of negative 4.8.

Oil also received a boost from a weaker dollar. The greenback slipped to fresh two-week lows against both the euro and pound.

Crude prices moved up $2.02 On Wednesday after Energy Department data showed crude oil inventories decreased by 2.8 million barrels from the previous week. Experts were looking for a drop of about 2.1 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories increased by 1.5 million barrels last week. Economists were looking for a build of about 750,000 barrels. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 600,000 barrels.

Before Wednesday, oil had declined in nine of 10 sessions.

In other energy trading, natural gas prices jumped 12% to top $3.65 per per million British thermal units. EIA data showed natural gas supplies rose by 90 billion cubic feet in the recent week.

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