NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil is up more than $2 per barrel after three straight days of declines as weekly unemployment claims in the United States fell to their lowest level in two months.
Benchmark oil gained $2.09 to $92.07 per barrel just after 1 p.m. Eastern time. The last time crude settled with a bigger gain was Aug. 3.
The Labor Department said the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits plunged 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, the lowest level in nine weeks. Weekly unemployment applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. Any sign of an improving economy can drive energy prices up.
The market gains started earlier in Asia, helped by expectations the People's Bank of China will soon take more steps to stimulate the world's No. 2 economy.
Oil has dropped $9 per barrel in the last two weeks following the announcement of new economic stimulus measures by the Federal Reserve.
The price of gasoline fell a penny to $3.795 a gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. It's down about 4 cents from a month ago.
Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, gained $2.11 to $112.15 on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.
In other trading:
— Heating oil rose 5 cents to $3.15 per gallon.
— Wholesale gasoline gained 4 cents to $2.92 per gallon.
— Natural gas added 8 cents to $3.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.