Traders at the New York Mercantile Exchange, REUTERS

(REUTERS) -- U.S. crude futures fell back on Thursday after government data showed that new filings for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week to their highest level since late October, a bad sign for oil demand. Oil traded down $1.01 to $99.41 per barrel on Thursday at mid-day.

Before release of the data, crude was up slightly in choppy trading, having recovered from earlier losses driven by persistent worries about a slowdown in Europe's economy that analysts fear could sharply cut oil

Crude futures were under pressure as manufacturing activity contracted across Europe and most of Asia, according to Thursday's economic reports.

Goldman Sachs warned of a potential sharp drop in oil demand as it saw the crude oil market navigating between currently tight physical conditions and the threat the European debt crisis could trigger a global economic
recession in the near future.

The early slide came following relief sparked by Wednesday's coordinated action by top top central banks to prevent a global liquiditycrunch.

New claims for state unemployment benefits climbed to a seasonally adjusted 402,000 in the week to Nov. 26, from an upwardly revised 396,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had
forecast claims at 390,000.

The jobless claims data precede's Friday's non-farm payrolls data for November. A Reuters poll forecast that overall non-farm payrolls rose 122,000 this month.