Oil futures settled Thursday at their highest in two weeks, supported by signs of improving demand in the U.S. and improving economic data out of China. Hot inflation readings, however, stoked expectations that global central banks will continue to tighten monetary policy aggressively, possibly setting the stage for a later economic downturn that could eventually dull energy demand.
West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery
rose 47 cents, or 0.6%, to settle at $78.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest front-month contract finish since Feb. 16, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
May Brent crude
the global benchmark, climbed 44 cents, or 0.5%, at $84.75 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe — also the highest settlement in two weeks.
rose nearly 1% to $2.7003 a gallon, while April heating oil
shed 0.3% to $2.8662 a gallon.
April natural gas
fell 1.6% to $2.765 per million British thermal units.
Market drivers Crude followed through on gains seen the previous session, after upbeat readings on purchasing managers indexes for the manufacturing and services sector from China. Still, “this China economic led oil-price rally is fighting agai …