BANGKOK – The price of oil rose slightly Friday after a big fall in U.S. unemployment benefit claims suggested some improvement in the world's biggest economy, raising expectations for increased demand for energy.
Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 2 cents to $92.09 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 82 cents to close at $92.07 per barrel in New York on Thursday.
Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, fell 75 cents to $113.93 on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.
The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to 339,000. That's the lowest in more than four years. If sustained, the lower level could signal stronger hiring.
"We're going to look for more workers and consumers driving and more diesel demand from manufacturers and retailers delivering," said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks and Opinions.
Oil prices rose Thursday as tension between Turkey and Syria raised concerns that crude oil supplies from the Middle East could be disrupted.
On Thursday, Turkey said it forced a Syrian passenger plane to land because it believed it was carrying banned cargo from Russia. Syria called the incident piracy. The two countries have traded artillery fire over Syria's northern border throughout the past week.
In other energy trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
— Heating oil fell 2.4 cents to $3.233 per gallon.
— Wholesale gasoline fell 4.5 cents to $2.911 per gallon.
— Natural gas fell 1.2 cents to $3.592 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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