New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, gained seven cents to USD 99.60 a barrel but Brent North Sea crude for February delivery lost 11 cents to USD 107.78. "We had very supportive numbers from the US, the jobless claims were relatively positive," said Nick Trevethan, senior commodities strategist for ANZ Research in Singapore.
"However, it is the Christmas holiday season and trading volume is getting pretty light," he told AFP. The US Labor Department said Thursday claims for US unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since April 2008 last week, the third straight fall and another sign that the jobs market is in recovery in the world's biggest economy.
The data was stronger than economists' predictions, with claims of 364,000 last week versus the consensus estimate of 380,000. The United States is the world's largest oil-consuming nation.