The price of oil slipped below $94 a barrel Thursday as traders digested discouraging economic data from the United States and Europe and U.S. oil supplies remained high.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for June delivery was down 37 cents to $93.93 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 9 cents on Wednesday.
Applications for U.S. unemployment aid rose last week by 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, the highest in 6 weeks, the Labor Department said.
On Wednesday, new figures showed that the 17-country eurozone's economy contracted for a sixth consecutive quarter in January-March as Germany, the bloc's biggest market, grew by a mere 0.1 percent and France fell into recession.
"With recovery optimists so dependent on the occasional glimpse of sunlight from Germany, their miss was particularly disappointing," said Toby Morris, senior sales trader at CMC Markets, in an email commentary.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve said factory output dropped 0.4 percent in April, the third decline in four months.
Ample U.S. supplies of crude and gasoline also weighed on prices.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said U.S. stockpiles of crude oil remained near all-time highs last week despite dipping by 624,000 barrels to 395.9 million barrels. Gasoline stocks, which had been expected to fall, rose by 2.58 million barrels.
Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, was up 39 cents to $103.89 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cent to $2.854 a gallon.
— Heating oil added 1.54 cents to $2.8955 a gallon.
— Natural gas lost 0.4 cent to $4.066 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.
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