Oil was also supported by forecasts of higher oil prices from U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs
U.S. crude for July delivery rose $1.61 cents to $67.73 a barrel by 1251 GMT, off an earlier high of $67.90. London Brent crude gained $1.92 to $67.80.
The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell for a third straight week, government data showed on Thursday, indicating some loss of force in the pace of the labor market's deterioration.
U.S. stock market index futures rose after the release of the data.
Earlier oil had rallied after Goldman Sachs raised its end of 2009 oil price forecast to $85 a barrel from $65 and introduced a new end of 2010 forecast of $95.
''For the better or for the worse, a switch in the Goldman price forecast rarely does not have a price influence and we will need to take it as a market input for the next few days,'' said Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob.
Oil closed down more than $2 on Wednesday following a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration that U.S. crude inventories rose 2.9 million barrels, against expectations for a decline of 1.4 million barrels in a Reuters poll.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said the producer group OPEC would wait until crude inventories fall to around 53 days of forward cover before considering raising output, nearly 10 days below current levels.