The price of oil rose to a high for the week after a positive reading on the U.S. job market.
By midday in New York, benchmark oil for July delivery was up $1.36 to $95.10 a barrel. Oil earlier rose as high as $95.32.
Oil prices received support from the latest government unemployment update. The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 11,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, a level consistent with steady job growth. The claims figures come a day ahead of the monthly payrolls report, which often sets the tone across financial markets for a week or two after its release.
Oil prices are still expected to stay within a tight range for now, as supplies are ample and demand remains restrained by a tepid global economic recovery.
"The market has been stuck in neutral for some time and it's hard to see how any analyst can be so bold as to see a major move on the chart forming in the near term," said Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions in a market commentary.
At the pump, the average price for a gallon of gas inched higher to $3.63 a gallon. That's 10 cents higher than a month ago and 6 cents more than at this time last year.
Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, was up 67 cents to $103.63 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.85 a gallon.
— Heating oil added 1 cent to $2.87 per gallon.
— Natural gas was down 14 cents to $3.86 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Christopher S. Rugaber in Washington contributed to this report.