Crude-oil futures settled with a more than 4% gain to reclaim the $50-a-barrel level on Thursday, as better-than-expected jobless claims data in the U.S. and a higher economic growth forecast for the European Union helped improve the outlook for energy demand.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, March crude CLH5, +1.39% rose $2.03, or 4.2%, to settle at $50.48 a barrel. Prices lost more than double that amount in the previous session.U.S. jobless claims bounced off a 14-year low, boosting hopes ahead of nonfarm payroll data Friday, said Matt Smith, a commodity analyst at Schneider Electric. See Economic calendar. The European Union on Thursday also raised its growth forecast.Signs of economic improvement may lead to a boost in demand for energy, which may help reduce the glut of U.S. oil supplies.
U.S. oil futures had tallied a gain of 19% within a span of four trading sessions that ended Tuesday, raising hopes among oil-market bulls that prices had bottomed. But a jump in U.S. crude supplies to their highest level in 80 years sent oil prices down sliding nearly 9% on Wednesday.