Crude oil futures were fluctuating in value on Thursday following economic data in the U.S. stating jobless claims grew, European Central Bank officials kicking off an economy-growing stimulus and a strengthening U.S. dollar, according to published reports.
Dow Jones Newswires reports trade in the morning resulted in price gains for crude oil futures, marking the second consecutive session of upswings for the energy commodity. Crude oil was able to reverse three straight days of losses as influenced by positive demand figures.
But once the U.S. Labor Department disclosed that claims for unemployment insurance grew by 6,000 to 401,000 last week, the crude oil market reversed course. Another factor prompting the about-face is the European Central Bank announcing it plans to intervene with a quantitative easing program that will see the institution purchase 40 billion euro-worth of bonds as a strategy of boosting the economy with liquidity.
Despite the price drop, some analysts remained optimistic about the energy commodity's prospects looking forward.
"The weekly jobless claims were a little bit disappointing, so we're down on that a little bit," senior market analyst Phil Flynn with PFG Best Research told Dow Jones Newswires. "There's a knee-jerk reaction to the ECB quantitative easing. Even though I think that's the initial move, longer-term QE's going to be bullish for oil demand. If there's more stability in the European banks, there's going to be more demand for oil. Even though the reaction is negative to the QE, overall I think oil may have turned the corner."
The announcement came from Jean-Claude Trichet, who presided over his final interest-rate meeting as president of the European Central Bank as he prepares for retirement.
While Trichet made the announcement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was conducting discussions with Christine Lagarde, the top official with the International Monetary Fund, according to Bloomberg. Additional officials also were in attendance at the Berlin meeting. Trichet was slated to join in on the discussions.
Officials in the euro zone are attempting to drive bank capital higher as a strategy of preserving the integrity of regional banks during the trying times and damage inflicted by the sovereign debt crisis.
At 11:51 a.m. on Thursday, crude oil futures gained 0.51 percent, a 52 cent increase to $103.25 per barrel.
Crude oil futures climbed in value amid the increase in unemployment benefit claims, which was less than forecast, Bloomberg reports. The projection was for 410,000 claims while the monthly average fell to its lowest amount since August.
"Since economic growth concerns remain and the data is mixed there will continue to be a great deal of volatility in the market," Jason Schenker, president of energy advisory Prestige Economics of Texas, told Bloomberg.
Reuters reports the jobless claims data briefly boosted the price of oil while a weaker dollar drew down the energy commodity.
Dow Jones Newswires reports the announcement by the ECB pushed up the value of the U.S. dollar when held against the shared currency of the European Union. When the dollar drops in value, oil tends to rise as the value of the commodity that is denominated in dollars gets more pricey for investors dealing with differing currencies.
Oil-rich North African nation Libya, attempting to recover from civil uprising and war-like circumstances after sacking 42-year autocrat Muammar Gadhafi during the summer, is set to continue the exportation of oil. The uprising began in February.
The Financial Times reports Heritage Oil is pursuing oil and gas licenses in time for new leadership of the nation.
"When everybody else fled in February, we moved in and saw an opportunity," chief financial officer Paul Atherton told the publication. "We cemented relationships and entered into discussions with the National Transitional Council."
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