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Oil gained for the first time in three days as claims for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to a four-year low and equities rose, raising hopes that demand in the world’s biggest user of oil will increase.
Prices increased after the Labor Department said jobless claims fell 6,000 to 357,000 in the week ended March 31 and extended the gain as equities erased losses. Oil declined earlier on renewed concern that the euro area has yet to contain its debt crisis.
The four-week moving average of jobless claims, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, decreased to 361,750 last week from 366,000, according to the Labor Department.
U.S. consumer confidence climbed last week to the highest level in four years as brighter job prospects and an advancing stock market bolstered Americans’ view of the economy. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index erased a loss of 0.4 percent.
Oil fell earlier after Spain Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may require international aid. Spain, the euro region’s fourth- largest economy, is in “extreme difficulty,” Rajoy said yesterday, raising the likelihood of a bailout for the second time this week.
Crude for May delivery gained to $103.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil tumbled yesterday after the Energy Department said U.S. stockpiles surged the most since 2008. Trading is closed tomorrow for Good Friday.
Brent oil for May settlement rose 68 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $123.02 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
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