Crude oil settles above $52 on economic data

April 10th, 2009 - 4:53 am ICT by IANS  

New York, April 10 (Xinhua) Crude oil prices jumped nearly six percent to close above $52 Thursday, as better-than-expected retail and unemployment reports offset the increase in natural gas inventories.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery rose $2.86 to settle at $52.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Investors were hoping that recent reports from major retailers may offer signs of recovery. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported Thursday that sales at stores were up. Though the performance did not beat analysts’ expectations, the world’s largest retailer gave a better projection of sales in April due to the Easter holiday.

Earlier this week, home decor chain Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. and restaurant Ruby Tuesday Inc. have reported better-than-expected first quarter results. Teen retailer Hot Topic Inc. also beat analysts’ forecasts.

Another positive sign of economic recovery is the drop of new jobless claims. The US Labour Department said initial claims of unemployment benefit fell to a seasonally adjusted 654,000, down from a revised 674,000 the previous week. Analysts expected claims to drop only to 660,000.

Investors shrugged off the news of a larger-than-expected build up in the natural gas supplies. A report from the US Energy Department showed that natural gas inventories held in underground storage rose by 20 billion cubic feet to about 1.67 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Friday, much more than analysts had predicted.

In London, Brent crude for May delivery gained $2.47 to settle at $54.06 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

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