Crude prices retreated from six-month highs on Thursday as weak U.S. employment data stirred concerns on energy demand.
The U.S. government posted a new record high of continuing jobless claims on Thursday. The Labor Department said initial claims for jobless benefits fell 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 631,000 last week. That was in line with analysts' expectations of630,000. But continuing jobless claims inched closer to 7 million.
Crude prices topped 60 U.S. dollars a barrel on Wednesday after the U.S. government reported a surprising decline in crude and gasoline inventories as the driving season approaches.
On Thursday investors took profit after the Federal Reserve said the nation's economy was likely to shrink more than expected this year and projected a jobless rate as high as 9.6 percent.
Light, sweet crude for July delivery was down 99 cents to 61.05U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude was down 71 cents to settle at 59.88 dollars a barrel.