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Oil rose for the first time in seven days as U.S. claims for initial jobless benefits fell last week to a one-month low, adding to optimism that demand in the world’s biggest crude consumer will grow.
Futures increased as much as 0.9 percent after the Labor Department reported jobless claims dropped by 1,000 to 367,000 in the period ended May 5, the lowest since the end of March. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls was the smallest since July 2008.
The U.S. trade deficit widened more than forecast in March as demand for oil, computers and automobiles propelled imports to a record, the Commerce Department reported.
The cost of crude oil imports in March increased to $29.2 billion from $23.4 billion the previous month, reflecting higher prices and an increase in volumes, the report showed.
Oil declined earlier after China’s April crude imports dropped to the lowest level since December, while exports of goods rose less than estimated.
The world’s second-biggest oil consumer bought 22.21 million metric tons, or 5.4 million barrels a day, more oil than it exported in April, data published on the website of the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs showed. Imports of crude were 22.26 million tons and exports 50,000.
Crude for June delivery gained to $97.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price slumped 8.8 percent in the six-day losing streak.
Brent oil for June settlement slid 42 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $112.78 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
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