By PAMELA SAMPSONAP Business Writer
BANGKOK (AP) - Oil prices rose Thursday ahead of the release of employment data in the U.S. although the increase was kept in check by ample crude supplies and worries about the eurozone economy.
Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 12 cents to $92.64 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 2 cents to close $92.52 on the Nymex on Wednesday.
The Labor Department will release weekly jobless claims later in the day. A brightening employment picture in the U.S. helped propel the Dow Jones industrial average to a record high earlier this month.
On Wednesday, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said crude supplies rose by 2.6 million barrels to 384 million barrels for the week ended March 8. Analysts had expected an increase of 2.3 million barrels. The increase puts oil in storage 10.5 percent higher than levels one year earlier.
Sickly European economies are also keeping oil prices down.
Official statistics released Wednesday showed that industrial production across the 17 euro countries fell by a worse-than-expected 0.4 percent in January. Both Germany and France, the two industrial powerhouses in the region, registered drops in production.
Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, rose 8 cents to $108.60 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline lost 2.2 cents to $3.11 a gallon.
- Heating oil fell 1.1 cent to $3.001 a gallon.
- Natural gas added 1.9 cents to $3.699 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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