In the U.S., the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, indicating a stronger labor market that helped lift equities, though U.S. crude shrugged it off. Analysts noted U.S. crude gave up its rally after hitting resistance at the 200-day moving average, a key technical level.
On Wednesday, oil futures rose by more than $1 on both sides of the Atlantic after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed an unexpected drop in U.S. inventories last week, although total stocks remained close to record high levels.
Separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine rebuffed Russian President Vladimir Putin's call for them to postpone a referendum on independence, casting a shadow over a possible chance to ease the crisis and rekindling political concerns that have buoyed Brent. Putin's surprise move on Wednesday and his announcement that Russian troops had withdrawn from the border with Ukraine have weighed on Brent, but caution remained in the markets as NATO and the White House said they were still waiting for evidence.
For more information on commodities prices, please click here.