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Oil futures were little changed after the U.S. government reported inventories increased less than forecast and gasoline demand reached a 10-week high.
Crude traded in a $1.07-a-barrel range after the Energy Department said supplies gained 1.09 million barrels last week to 375.9 million, the highest level since July. Stockpiles were forecast to gain 2.65 million barrels, according to the median of 10 analyst estimates. Gasoline demand rose to 8.91 million barrels a day.
Oil rose in early trading on concern that escalating Middle East tension will disrupt supplies and as the euro strengthened against the dollar. Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip exchanged rocket fire and airstrikes a day after Israel killed Ahmed al-Jabari, the leader of Hamas’s military wing.
Futures pared gains as more Americans than forecast submitted claims for unemployment insurance last week and manufacturing in the New York region contracted.
Applications for jobless benefits surged by 78,000 to 439,000 in the week ended Nov. 10, the most since April 2011, the Labor Department reported. Several states said the increase was due to the storm that hit the Northeastern part of the U.S. in late October, a Labor Department spokesman said.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general economic index was minus 5.2 this month after minus 6.2 in October. Readings of less than zero signal contraction in New York, northern New Jersey and southern Connecticut.
Crude oil for December delivery fell to $85.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude for December settlement, which expires today, gained $1.22, or 1.1 percent, to $110.83 a barrel on the London- based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The more actively traded January contract gained 37 cents to $108.85.
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