Oil prices jump to 75 dollars

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World oil prices jumped to 75 dollars on Thursday after news of a decline in new weekly claims for jobless benefits in top energy consumer the United States.

Brent North Sea crude for October gained 1.52 dollars to 75.00 dollars per barrel in late afternoon London trade.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for October delivery, jumped 98 cents to 73.50 dollars.

Labor Department data showed Thursday that the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits for the week to August 21 dipped to 473,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 504,000.

The latest figure was better than most economists' expectations of 485,000 but analysts cautioned that the underlying position was still poor.

Gene McGillian, analyst at US-based consultancy Tradition Energy, said the economic picture was still bleak.

"Initial jobless claims still weren't anything to write home about ... The fundamental picture (in the United States) continues to remain really weak," he said.

Oil got a boost too from rising European stock markets and a weak dollar, which led many traders to shrug off a massive increase in US crude reserves.

"Crude oil prices extended gains ... supported by a softer US dollar and further gains across global equity markets," said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.

Stock markets staged a solid rebound on Thursday following a run of losses.

A weaker dollar, meanwhile, entices buyers using rival currencies to snap up dollar-denominated crude because it becomes cheaper to buy.

Oil also rose on Wednesday despite dismal US economic data and a spectacular jump in American crude reserves that signaled weaker demand in the United States.

The US government's Department of Energy (DoE) said crude stockpiles jumped 4.1 million barrels last week, confounding market expectations for a 200,000-barrel drop.

- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report -

© 2010 AFP

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