On Thursday, oil prices fluctuated before finishing higher. For the February futures market on Nymex, the price of U.S. WTI light crude oil gained 0.3 percent to $48.52 a barrel, while North Sea Brent gained 0.6 percent to $51.91. However, in 2020, as a result of declining demand related to the Covid-19 crisis, crude oil prices lost 20 percent.
On Thursday, Gold gained 0.1% to $1,893.10 an ounce on the February Comex futures market, and posted a 25% leap for the year, fuelled by worries about the Covid-19 crisis. This is the best year in 10 years for yellow metal which had gain 30 percent price rise in 2010.
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Markets appreciated the weekly unemployment numbers in the United States on Thursday on the economic front, which offered a positive surprise after three weeks of decline. Thus, for the week ended December 26, jobless claims dropped 19,000 to 787,000 from 806,000 in the previous week. A further increase in claims was projected to be seen at 830,000 by industry opinion.
In China, the PMI operation indicators, with a manufacturing PMI of 51.9 (after 52.1 in November) and a service indicator of 55.7 (compared to 56.4 in November), were not a big surprise in December. Due to new health regulations introduced by some of China’s partner countries, activity has slowed, particularly on the export side. These indices help to affirm the continuing economic growth in the second largest economy in the world, where coronavirus cases remain rare, one year after the pandemic started in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
On the pandemic front, despite criticism of the sluggish rate of vaccines in the United States, vaccine news was mixed on Thursday. Moncef Slaoui, chief technical advisor to the US Warp Speed Operation, said on Tuesday that the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine would possibly not be approved for emergency use until April in the United States.