NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil gained almost $2 per barrel Thursday after three straight days of declines.
A positive report on the U.S. job market, signs that Spain can meet its deficit-cutting targets and hope the central bank of China will act soon to help that country's economy contributed to oil's biggest gain in nearly two months.
Benchmark oil gained $1.87, or 2.1 percent to finish at $91.85 per barrel in New York. The last time crude posted a bigger gain was Aug. 3.
The Labor Department said the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits plunged 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, the lowest level in nine weeks. Any sign of an improving U.S. economy can drive energy prices higher.
Oil's gains started earlier in Asia, helped by expectations the People's Bank of China will soon take more steps to stimulate the world's No. 2 economy. Spain later announced severe budget cuts intended to convince the world that it can meet deficit-reduction targets.
U.S. stock markets also enjoyed their best day of the week.
Before Thursday's decline, oil prices had dropped $9 per barrel in the last two weeks following the announcement of new economic stimulus measures by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Prices at the pump fell. Gasoline fell a penny to $3.795 a gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. It's down about 4 cents from a month ago.
Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, gained $1.97 to close at $112.01 on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.
In other trading:
— Heating oil rose 5.1 cents to close at $3.157 per gallon.
— Wholesale gasoline gained 6.3 cents to finish at $3.14 per gallon.
— Natural gas added 8.2 cents to end at $3.297 per 1,000 cubic feet, a high for the year.