Dan Strumpf
May 26, 2011

Oil futures edged lower Thursday, a day after their run above $101 a barrel, after several reports offered a disappointing view of the U.S. economy.

Light, sweet crude for July delivery fell 40 cents, or 0.4%, to $100.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange fell 19 cents, or 0.2%, to $114.74 a barrel.

The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week, according to the U.S. Labor Department, surprising economists and signaling the labor market in the world’s largest oil consumer continues to sputter.

Initial unemployment claims rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 424,000 in the week ended May 21. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected claims to fall by 4,000. The department also revised last week’s figure upward.

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Meanwhile, the U.S. economy grew at sluggish 1.8% during the first three months of the year, slowing from 3.1% during the fourth quarter of 2010, the Commerce Department said in its latest estimate of first-quarter growth.

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