Benchmark oil for June delivery lost 23 cents to finish at US$96.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The U.S. dollar gained against other currencies; including the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen, topping 100 yen for the first time in four years. Since oil is traded in dollars, a stronger dollar makes crude less appealing to investors using foreign currency.
Energy markets may also be feeling some pressure from higher-than-expected inflation figures from China. Those rising prices could slow the economy of the world's second-largest oil consumer.
The U.S. Labor Department on Thursday reported the number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000. Layoffs have receded to pre-recession levels. The less volatile four-week average dropped by 6,250 to 336,750, the lowest since November 2007, just before the Great Recession began.
A more robust hiring environment suggests businesses will be consuming more energy, not to mention more people commuting to work.
Brent crude, which is a benchmark for many international oil varieties, rose 13 cents to end at $104.47 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose three cents to finish at $2.89 a gallon.
— Heating oil rose two cents to end at $2.94 a gallon.
— Natural gas was flat at $3.98 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Christopher S. Rugaber in Washington, Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest contributed to this report.
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