WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Nearest delivery oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange moved shallowly mixed in early trade Thursday, with the U.S. benchmark posting modest declines as a record rise in domestic coronavirus infections weighed on sentiment ahead of weekly unemployment claims, raising concerns over the strength of the ongoing economic recovery.
Near 7:30 a.m. ET, NYMEX West Texas Intermediate August futures slipped $0.12 to $40.78 per barrel (bbl) and international benchmark September Brent edged higher to $43.37 bbl. NYMEX ULSD futures advanced 0.72 cents to near $1.2416 gallon, recouping some of the hefty losses from the session prior and front-month RBOB futures retreated from last night's two-week high settlement of $1.2909 gallon to trade 0.78 cents lower.
U.S. coronavirus infections climbed by 60,000 new cases on Wednesday, according to Centers of Disease Control, the highest single day increase of any country since the outbreak first began in early January. The U.S. dollar sagged against its global peers in early Thursday activity, with China's yen trading at a four-month high against the greenback while the euro rose to a one-month high in midday European trading. Apart from the United States, Brazil and India, the virus spread has showed some signs of easing, with Europe and Asia resuming international flights and re-opening the borders.
Against this backdrop, markets look to weekly U.S. unemployment claims released 8:30 a.m. ET, with a consensus calling for another 1.3 million Americans filling for first-time unemployment benefits versus 1.427 million in the week prior while continued unemployment claims are expected to show 18.95 million. The last set of data showed that even as weekly unemployment continued to decline, permanent job losses rose nearly 300,000 above forecasts with the number of people receiving unemployment benefits for consecutive weeks at 19.29 million.
WTI and RBOB futures were lent support on Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported domestic gasoline demand jumped to 15-week high 8.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week ended July 3, reinforcing the view that fuel consumption could remain resilient to the pandemic's second surge. There has been much speculation in recent weeks that coronavirus outbreaks in large U.S. gasoline demand centers, like Texas and Florida, would dampen summer driving demand with consumers seen pulling back on spending.
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