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Crude Oil Closes Higher After Yesterday's Pounding

U.S. crude oil futures rebounded to close higher on Thursday, after having plunged to a 7-week low yesterday. Oil prices moved up as traders seeking a bargain honed in to make most of the low prices after yesterday beating, and as well on Iranian oil supply concerns and some encouraging China data.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, gained $1.84 or 1.8 percent to close at $103.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday.

Crude prices scaled a high of $103.40 a barrel intraday and a low of $101.37.

Yesterday, an EIA report showed US crude oil inventories surged by 9.00 million barrels, while gasoline stocks dipped 1.50 million barrels in the week ended March 30. Analysts expected crude oil inventories to gain 2.20 million barrels, with gasoline stocks projected to dip 1.40 million barrels last week.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major currencies, traded at 80.079 on Thursday, up from 79.764 in North American trade late Wednesday. The dollar scaled a high of 80.18 intraday, with a low of 79.62.

The euro was trading lower against the dollar at $1.3063 on Thursday, as compared to $1.3139 late Wednesday. The euro had scaled a high of $1.3164 intraday with a low of $1.3036.

In economic news from the U.S., the Labor Department said new claims for unemployment came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 357,000, a decline of 6,000 from the previous week's revised average of 363,000. While the previous figure was revised up somewhat from the 359,000 initially reported, this week's numbers come in lower than the 360,000 predicted by most economists.

China's service sector having expanded in March at a slower pace compared to the previous month, a survey by Markit Economics revealed. Firms remained fairly upbeat about their business prospects with confidence jumping to a 11-month high. The headline seasonally adjusted HSBC/Markit Business Activity Index, an indicator of activity in the service sector, read 53.3 in March compared to 53.9 in February.

From the eurozone, Germany's industrial production declined more than expected in February, data from the Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology showed. Industrial output dropped 1.3 percent in February from a month ago, offsetting January's 1.2 percent growth. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent decrease.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England left its key interest rate unchanged at 0.50 percent, while maintaining its asset purchase program at GBP 325 billion.

by RTT Staff Writer

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