Crude oil futures rose for a fourth straight session on Thursday, gaining over $1 a barrel, as conviction strengthened that monetary stimulus measures from major central banks would stay in place for the time being.
U.S. GDP data on Wednesday that slashed the estimate of first-quarter economic growth and comments from Federal Reserve governors assured investors that the Fed is in no rush to scale back its massive bond-buying program.
"I think all the markets took a hit on the misinterpretation of Ben Bernanke's comments last week. Since then it seems like Fed governor after Fed governor has been walking those comments back, and that's helping a lot of asset classes including oil," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
Brent crude for August delivery tested its 50-day moving average, rising as high as $103.34 before ending the day up $1.16 at $102.82 a barrel. Brent is on track for its longest stretch of daily gains since mid-May.
U.S. crude rose for a fourth straight session, breaking through its 14-day moving average to end up $1.55 at $97.05 a barrel.
U.S. crude has outperformed Brent in three of the last four sessions, narrowing Brent's premium to crude to $5.77 at Thursday's close, from as wide as $7.40 on June 24.
Front-month U.S. natural gas futures tumbled sharply Thursday, sliding to a 3½-month low after a government report showed another above-average weekly inventory buildup.
The Energy Information Administration report showed that total domestic gas inventories rose last week by 95 billion cubic feet, to 2.533 trillion cubic feet. Traders and analysts polled by Reuters had expected an 88 bcf build up.