The government said the number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 last week, the lowest since late September and further evidence of an improving job market.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery gained $1.59 to close at US$95.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the highest closing price this month.
Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes, gained $2.02 to US$110.08 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline added eight cents to US$2.74 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil rose five cents to US$3.01 a gallon and natural gas advanced three cents to US$3.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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