The price of oil rose for the first time in six days on upbeat news about the U.S. economy.
Benchmark oil for November delivery gained 37 cents Thursday to close at $103.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil had dropped $5.41, or 5 percent, over the five previous trading sessions.
Oil prices rose as data showed that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 305,000, the second-lowest level in six years. The U.S. economy, meanwhile, was confirmed to have grown an annualized 2.5 percent in the April-June period.
Oil has fallen nearly 7 percent since closing at a two-year high of $110.53 on Sept. 6. Since then, diplomatic efforts have averted a U.S. military strike against Syria, and tense relations between the U.S. and Iran have shown signs of a thaw. As a result, the market has removed the so-called political risk premium from the price of oil. Some analysts put this premium at about $5 to $6 a barrel.
Meanwhile, U.S. drivers continue to see daily relief at the gas station. The average price for a gallon of gasoline fell 1 cent to $3.43. Gas has dropped 16 cents this month and is now about 37 cents cheaper than at this time a year ago.
Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, rose 89 cents to $109.21 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
_ Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.71 per gallon.
_ Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.50 per 1,000 cubic feet.
_ Heating oil rose 3 cents to $3.00 per gallon.
Pablo Gorondi in Budapest and Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.