Crude latches on to US data, overcomes China jitters

U.S. and Brent crude futures rose on Thursday, lifted by supportive economic data from the United States after a plentiful supply picture and Chinese economic data had earlier pressured prices.

Sales of existing U.S. homes rose to a 10-month high in July and the number of initial jobless claims fell last week, signaling third-quarter strength in the economy. Separate reports on Thursday showing factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region in August at its highest level since March 2011 and a gauge of future economic activity up solidly last month added to the hopes for improving demand for oil.

"U.S. crude might have a gotten a little ahead of itself to the downside recently given the strong demand from U.S. refiners and the relative of strength of the U.S. economy, as this morning's data show," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC.

The world's top crude oil benchmarks have fallen more than $10 a barrel since June on a build-up of supply in the Atlantic Basin and continued production from Iraq and Libya despite the risk of supply disruption from the region's conflicts.

Oil fracking
David McNew | Getty Images

U.S. crude was up 51 cents to end at $93.96 a barrel, up after dropping to $92.50, the lowest since Jan. 15. Data showing a large drop in crude inventories last week and refinery capacity use at a robust 93.4 percent helped spark Wednesday's rally.

Brent October crude on Thursday was up 20 cents above $102, having recovered from its $101.21 low. Brent fell to $101.07 on Tuesday, its lowest since June 26, 2013, the same month it was last traded under $100 a barrel.

A survey of China's factory activity showed that growth in the sector slowed to a three-month low in August, pressuring oil prices early on Thursday and fueling concerns about a soft economy dampening demand for oil in the world's second-largest oil consumer.

Along with worries about demand, increasing supplies from OPEC member nations has eased fears of supply disruptions..

--By Reuters