NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices are rising as investors see political shake-ups in Greece and Italy as signs that those countries are taking steps to deal with their massive debts.
In the U.S., layoffs appeared to be easing as jobless claims fell to the lowest level since April. Major stock index rose in midday trading as well.
Benchmark crude on Thursday rose $1.67 to $97.44 per barrel in New York, while Brent crude increased 66 cents to $112.97 a barrel in London.
Greece and Italy turned to economists to lead them out of their debt crises. Greece chose Lucas Papademos as prime minister. In Italy, Mario Monti received increasing support among politicians to replace outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
At the pump, retail gasoline prices rose nearly a penny to $3.439 per gallon.