Oil prices rose nearly 5.8 percent on Thursday, fueled by a rally on Wall Street and data showing that the number of workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week.

U.S. crude rose $2.86 to settle at $52.24 a barrel while London Brent rose $2.47 to $54.06.

The energy complex finished this short week on a strong note, apparently responding to renewed economic optimism in the form of a solid advance in the stock indexes, said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Illinois.

U.S. stock markets jumped around 3 percent on Thursday after solid earnings from Wells Fargo fed hopes that stability may be returning to the banking sector. <.N>

Markets were also bolstered by U.S. data showing fewer workers than expected filing for jobless aid last week.

Oil has tracked equities markets closely this year as investors seek signs of a potential economic recovery that would boost energy demand.

Every time the equity markets move up, the energy complex tags along, said Gene McGillian, analyst at TFS Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. For the energy complex, we will have to see if equities continue to advance next week. That will likely show whether the energy complex is able to hold on to gains made above $50.

Adding support, UK consultancy Oil Movements said on Thursday that OPEC seaborne oil exports, not including new members Angola and Ecuador, will fall 280,000 barrels per day in the four weeks ending April 25.

OPEC has agreed to slash 4.2 million bpd of crude output since September to counter falling prices and match slumping world demand.

Oil prices had also climbed on Wednesday on weekly Energy Information Administration data showing a smaller-than-expected build in U.S. crude inventories and a big slump in distillate stocks.

(Reporting by Robert Gibbons, Gene Ramos and Richard Valdmanis in New York, Joe Brock in London; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)