* Potential storm ahead helps pull up prices
* Cushing stocks up in week to June 22-Genscape
* U.S. jobless claims fall more than expected
* Coming up: U.S. Q1 GDP, consumer mood data due Friday
By Gene Ramos
NEW YORK, June 24 U.S. crude oil futures bounced
late to close slightly higher on Thursday, breaking two straight
days of losses, as the possibility of a storm developing in the
Caribbean by the weekend overshadowed a less optimistic economic
outlook from the Federal Reserve.
Technical support near $75 a barrel also provided some relief,
turning the session into an "inside day," a situation in which
prices move within the previous day's range.
U.S. crude for August delivery CLQ0 settled up 16 cents at
$76.51 a barrel, after trading as low as $75.32.
Volume on the August contract was moderate, at around 245,000
contracts as of 3:45 p.m. EDT (1845 GMT).
In London, ICE Brent futures ended up 20 cents at $76.47 a
barrel, climbing from the day's low of $75.40.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Thursday that a
tropical wave over the Caribbean Sea had about a 40 percent chance
of developing into a tropical depression over the next couple of
If the depression develops, a further strengthening could turn
it into a tropical storm that would be named Alex. Most weather
models project the current weather disturbance will turn north
into the Gulf of Mexico after crossing Mexico's Yucatan
"Shorts are very sensitive -- you do have that storm
possibility lurking in the Gulf of Mexico -- and the dollar
breaking down a bit was supportive to crude," said Richard
Ilczyszyn, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock in Chicago.
A storm could also further complicate BP Plc's (BP.L) efforts
to clean up its massive oil spill, and would disturb current oil
production in operating platforms in the region.
The dollar fell against the euro, still reeling from a less
bullish outlook on the U.S. economy from the Federal Reserve on
Wednesday. [USD/] The dollar's weakening usually supports
investment flows shifting to riskier assets such as oil and other
Earlier, the euro slipped on renewed worries about Greece's
sovereign debt but rose as long-term investors covered short
U.S. crude prices are up about 20 percent from the $64.24 low
hit on May 20, but are still about 12 percent lower than the
19-month peak of $87.15 hit on May 3, before the European debt
JOBLESS CLAIMS, EURO ZONE DATA SUPPORT
After hitting the day's low, U.S. crude found support from
data showing the number of U.S. workers filling new applications
for unemployment insurance fell more than expected and euro zone
industrial orders rose at their fastest pace in 10 years.
Gains were curbed, however, by worries that remained after the
Fed assessed the economic recovery as shaky. [ID:nN24110731]
Any upward thrust was also limited by brimming U.S. crude
inventories. U.S. government data on Wednesday showed domestic
crude stockpiles jumped 2 million barrels last week, though
gasoline fell more than expected, by 800,000 barrels. [IEA/S]
Adding to fundamental worries, industry data provider Genscape
showed oil inventories at the key U.S. Cushing, Oklahoma, crude
oil delivery hub rose to 39.57 million barrels in the week to June
The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that global
oil supplies will match expected growth of 1.2 million barrels in
daily oil consumption through to 2015.
Meanwhile, the controversy intensified over a six-month
deepwater drilling ban imposed by the U.S. government in the wake
of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
On Thursday, a U.S. federal judge refused to put on hold his
decision blocking the government from enforcing the ban, rejecting
the Obama administration's request to stay his decision.
(Reporting by Gene Ramos; additional reporting by Robert Gibbons
in New York, Emma Farge in London, and Alejandro Barbajosa in
Singapore; editing by Jim Marshall)