Oil futures rebounded on Thursday, with the U.S. benchmark putting an end to a losing streak that spanned nine sessions.
For most of the trading session, prices had been poised to log a 10th straight session decline, pressured by expectations of
increased crude supply from Libya, a lack of production disruptions in Iraq and worries about European energy demand.
Meanwhile, natural-gas futures held ground at their lowest level since January following data showing a weekly climb in U.S.
supplies of the fuel.
Crude for August delivery rose 64 cents, or 0.6%, to settle at $102.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Over the
previous nine trading sessions, prices lost more than $4 a barrel.
August Brent crude rose 39 cents, or 0.4%, to end at 108.67 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange after eight sessions of losses in a row.
Sellers of Nymex crude "simply became exhausted and began to book profits, which has resulted in a short squeeze," said Tyler Richey,
an analyst for the 7:00's Report, which offers daily markets commentary. "It will be important to see if futures can break the
sharp downtrend that has developed on the daily chart since the selloff began late last month. That level is approximately $103 a barrel."
Nymex crude ended lower on Wednesday for a ninth straight session, marking the longest losing streak since December 2009. Oil was
pressured Wednesday by a smaller-than-expected drop in U.S. crude supplies and signs that Libyan production is rebounding faster
than had been expected.
Oil futures had trimmed of some their early Thursday losses after first-time weekly jobless claims fell more than expected
to near a seven-year low.
But "the market is well overbought here and has been," said Donovan Lazar, New York general manager at the Online Trading
Academy. "The possibility of a much worse European bank crisis looms, coupled with a completely illusionary jobs report" last
week that showed growth in the U.S. jobs market though numbers are "completely skewed due to the lack of job seekers at this point."
Downbeat news on the economy tends to dull the outlook for energy demand. However, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
on Thursday forecast global oil demand growth this year at 1.13 million barrels a day, broadly unchanged from a previous monthly
report, while demand in 2015 is expected to "increase at faster pace" of 1.21 million barrels a day.
Natural-gas futures on Thursday fell after the U.S. government supply update. They remain at a six-month low.
August natural gas settled at $4.12 per million British thermal units on Nymex, down 5 cents, or 1.2%.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that supplies of natural gas climbed 93 billion cubic feet for the
week ended July 4. Analysts surveyed by Platts forecast an increase of between 90 billion cubic feet and 94 billion cubic feet.
Rounding out action on Nymex, prices for petroleum futures finished higher. August gasoline rose 2 cents to $2.96 a gallon, while
August heating oil also tacked on 2 cents to $2.89 a gallon.