NEW YORK, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. crude oil price retreated from four-month high on Thursday as U.S. weekly job data came in lackluster and hurt market sentiment.
The Labor Department said U.S. initial jobless claims added 38, 000 in the week ended Jan. 26, marking the second large swing in three weeks and making the report a less-than-reliable gauge for the job market. It dampened investors' optimism about U.S. economic recovery and pushed the U.S. crude benchmark down.
But U.S. personal incomes advanced 2.6 percent in December, the highest increase in eight years, beating analysts' estimates, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
The department also said that U.S. personal consumption expenditures gained 0.2 percent in December, slowing from the previous month. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of demand in the world's largest economy.
And German unemployment unexpectedly fell in January, according to the euro zone largest economy's official data.
Meanwhile, the continuing tension in the Middle East caused supplies concerns and offered supports to oil prices, especially for the more international benchmark of Brent crude.
Syria warned on Thursday of a possible "surprise" response to an Israeli attack on its territory, and Russia condemned the strike as an unprovoked violation of international law.
Tension over Iran's disputed nuclear program added to uncertainties in the oil-rich region.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery lost 45 cents, or 0.46 percent, to settle at 97.49 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. But Brent crude for March delivery continued to rise by 65 cents to 115.55 dollars a barrel.