Oil prices rose Thursday after positive news about the jobs market calmed anxious investors and sent stocks soaring.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil gained $2.83, or 3.4 percent, to finish at $85.72 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude rose $1.34 to finish at $108.02 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
The stock market rebounded from Wednesday's big sell-off. In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were all up more than 4 percent.
"My feeling is right now that the price of oil is going to be dependent on what happens to the stock market overall," PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said.
Oil, like the stock market, has been volatile. Benchmark crude has ranged from $78 to nearly $86 a barrel this week.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits fell last week below 400,000 for the first time in four months, a sign that the job market may be improving.
Investors are still uneasy about Europe, monitoring efforts by the European Central Bank to relieve debt problems in Spain and Italy. The leaders of France and Germany, the region's biggest economies, will meet next week to talk about the region's financial problems.
Closer to home, gasoline prices continued to fall, dropping almost 2 cents on Thursday to a national average of $3.62 a gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. That's about 8 cents less than a week ago but still 84 cents more than a year ago.
The Energy Department said Thursday that the nation's natural gas supplies rose again last week. The U.S. is awash in natural gas, and prices should stay low as supplies continue to build. Natural gas futures rose 10.5 cents to finish at $4.108 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 3.39 cents to finish at $2.8992 a gallon, and gasoline gained 4.48 cents to finish at $2.8273 a gallon.
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