Oil prices topped $75 a barrel Thursday following reports that China's economy is still booming and U.S. jobless claims fell.
Motorists found pump prices lower again, as retail gasoline prices continued to slide across much of the country.
Benchmark crude for July delivery rose $1.10 to settle at $75.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
China reported exports and imports rose more than 48 percent each in May, reassuring investors that the country's economy was not being slowed significantly by Europe's debt problems.
The U.S. Labor Department said jobless claims fell to 456,000 last week. Total claims fell by the largest amount in nearly a year.
Stock markets surged on the bullish economic news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose around 235 points, or 2.4 percent. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 were up by about as much. Energy stock rebounded, including BP, which was up more than 10 percent after falling 16 percent on Wednesday.
The International Energy Agency on Thursday raised its forecasts for global oil demand this year, citing stronger than expected economic activity in developed economies. The IEA, based in Paris, boosted its estimate by 60,000 barrels to 86.4 million barrels a day. That's a 2 percent increase from 2009.
The glowing trade news from China, as well as strong economic reports from Japan and Australia, helped the euro gain against the dollar. Commodities like oil are priced in dollars, so holders of foreign currencies find them less appealing with a stronger dollar.
Cameron Hanover said oil prices could be heading higher. "A good break and finish above $75.75 would point prices higher," the energy consultancy said in a note to investors, adding: "Of course, this could all be part of a larger move sideways before prices sell off again."
Retail gasoline prices fell 0.7 cent on Thursday, to $2.706 a gallon. That's down 19.5 cents from a month ago. The price is 7.9 cents above year-ago levels.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas inventories grew more than expected, up by 99 billion cubic feet to 2.456 trillion cubic feet for the week ended June 4. Analysts expected an increase of 91 billion to 95 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Natural gas lost 3 cents to settle at $4.647 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil rose 2.32 cents to settle at $2.0328 a gallon, and gasoline gained 3.08 cents to settle at $2.0582 a gallon.
Brent crude gained $1.02 to settle at $75.29 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.
© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.