Oil prices retreated Thursday, as a stronger greenback prompted traders to book profits in oil after the prices climbed more than 2.5% over the past two sessions. Rising inventory levels also added to the pressure.
Light, sweet crude oil for delivery in April settled $0.66 lower at $80.21 per barrel in the New York Mercantile Exchange, pulling back from a seven-week high above $81 reached in the previous session.
The Euro failed to hold ground even after the European Central Bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 1%, as the buck rose following reports from the US that showed a decline in unemployment claims and rise in factory orders.
Wednesday, the European currency had cut back some of its losses against the US Dollar after Greece announced new set of austerity measures aimed at reducing its huge budget deficit, which renewed hopes for a bail-out package for the debt-ridden country.
The US Energy Department's Energy Information Administration had reported Wednesday a 4.1 million barrel-increase in crude stockpiles during the week ended February 26, much higher than an increase by 1.1 million barrels economists had anticipated.
The Labor Department reported Thursday, initial claims for jobless benefits in the US fell by 29,000, in the week ended February 27, to 469,000. Economists were expecting claims to drop to 470,000.
Orders for US manufactured goods rose by 1.7% in January, according to a report from the Commerce Department. The increase was largely in line with estimates.
However, an unexpected drop in pending home sales cast a shadow of doubt over the outlook of US housing market. The National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index fell 7.6% to 90.4 in January, countering economists' expectations for a 1.0% increase.
(Market News Provided by RTTNews)