NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil rose above $95 Thursday as the U.S. job market showed more signs of recovering.
The government said the number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits fell 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 last week, the lowest since late September and further evidence of an improving job market.
Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery gained $1.59 to close at $95.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the highest closing price this month.
At the gas pump, the nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline rose 1 cent to $3.22. After a prolonged decline, the average has crept up about 4 cents in a week. Gas is still 21 cents cheaper on average than at this time last year.
Brent crude, the benchmark for an international variety of crude, gained $2.02 to $110.08 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline added 8 cents to $2.74 gallon.
— Heating oil rose 5 cents to $3.01 a gallon.
— Natural gas advanced 3 cents to $3.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.