Oil prices continued to fall on Thursday as an upbeat U.S. jobs report fueled market concerns that the Federal Reserve will start to taper its monetary easing measures soon.
The number of Americans who initially applied for unemployment aid last week edged up from a five-year low, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday.
In the week ending Aug. 3, the advance figure for seasonally- adjusted initial jobless claims rose by 5,000 to 333,000, from an upwardly-revised 328,000 in the previous week. And the four-week moving average, a less volatile measure of the claims, declined by 6,250 to 335,500, the lowest level since November 2007.
Traders were worried about possible Fed tapering amid a string of good economic data. Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto said on Wednesday that the U.S. central bank is ready to scale back its asset purchase programs if the labor market remains on the current strong path.
On Tuesday, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart also warned that the Fed's initial tapering of its bond-buying programs could be launched at any of its three remaining monetary policy meetings this year.
The increase of the U.S. oil output also weighed on crude prices. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Tuesday in its short-term energy outlook that U.S. crude oil production rose to an average of 7.5 million barrels per day (bbl/ d) in July 2013, the highest monthly level since 1991. It also forecast that the output will average 7.4 million bbl/d in 2013 and 8.2 million in 2014.
Light, sweet crude for September delivery lost 97 cents to settle at 103.4 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent for September delivery went down 76 cents to close at 106. 68 dollars a barrel.