Oil Makes Gains Thursday

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures moved higher Thursday morning, boosted by upbeat jobs data, a slightly weaker dollar and steep draws in petroleum stockpiles that signaled higher demand.

The futures rally comes ahead of weekly supply data from the Energy Information Administration due at 11:00 AM ET that's expected to show stock draws across the board for the week-ended July 1. This comes after the American Petroleum Institute late Wednesday reported bigger-than-expected stock draws.

Optimism that demand could remain strong was underpinned by data out this morning showing the labor market remains resilient, which assuaged concerns about Britain's recent decision to quit the European Union.

The Labor Department's weekly data showed job losses slowed last week while ADP's private sector jobs report showed a more-than-expected increase in people hired last month.

At 9:00 AM ET, NYMEX August West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures surged 59cts to $48.02 bbl at open. September Brent on the IntercontinentalExchange grew 62cts to $49.42 bbl.

In products trade, NYMEX August ULSD futures gained 2.50cts to $1.4961 gallon at the open while August RBOB futures contract climbed 3.38cts to $1.4667 gallon.

On Wall Street, the main U.S. equity indices were higher more than 1% on risk-on trade while the dollar eased versus the sterling pound and other currencies.

On the economic front, U.S. weekly jobless claims, a proxy for job layoffs, totaled 254,000 last week versus an expected 270,000, according to the Labor Department.

ADP Employment Services LLC, a payroll firm, said the private sector hired 172,000 in June versus an expected 159,000. The ADP data is an imperfect precursor to the Labor Department's monthly nonfarm payroll report that is set for release on Friday morning, and will show whether the labor market continued to improve last month after a disappointing report a month prior.

It's one of the data points the Federal Reserve will consider when deciding the timing of the next hike in federal funds rate. Minutes of the Fed's June meeting released Wednesday afternoon show the central bank held off on raising rates due to uncertainty over the labor market and the fallout of Brexit.

On fundamentals, API late Wednesday reported crude oil stockpiles fell 6.74 million bbl, more than twice the 2.8 million bbl stock draw that a DTN survey of analysts had projected. API also reported a 3.6 million bbl gasoline stock draw for the week, more than three times an expected 1.0 million bbl stock draw. Distillate fuel stocks fell 2.3 million bbl, API said, versus a projected 1.2 million decline.

Overseas, attacks on Nigerian oil pipelines by militants that disrupted supply from the African nation earlier this week also boosted oil futures.

George Orwel can be reached at george.orwel@dtn.com