US oil settles at 3-week high, fueled by gas, US data

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Crude oil futures rose by more than $1 per barrel on Thursday, boosted by positive U.S. economic data and surging gasoline prices as demand was expected to rise.

Investors were also eyeing talks between Western powers and Iran on hopes of an accord over its nuclear program.

U.S. gasoline prices rose close to 2 percent, boosting the entire crude oil complex. Rising demand met with refinery outages in Europe and the United States, tightening supplies.

Brent crude powered above $110, up more than $2 after gaining the most in a week and ending up $1.14 on Wednesday. U.S. oil added $1.59 to settle at $95.44, after U.S. initial claims data fell far more than analysts expected in the latest week.

Iranian oil comeback: Can it hit prices?

The U.S. Department of Labor said that number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week while U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to highest level since March, suggesting a strengthening economy.

In Geneva, France and Iran traded tough words on Thursday as major powers struggled to finalise an interim deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, with Paris urging the West to remain firm and Tehran deploring a loss of trust. Sanctions against Iran have kept 1 million barrels of oil from the market, and any indication that an agreement would be reached could mean lower prices as Iranian oil supplies would become available.

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