Oil Update: Crude Prices Back Above $61

Updated with recent moves in oil and stocks.

A day after oil futures soared, crude was losing some ground on Thursday.

On Thursday, light, sweet crude for August delivery was up 7 cents at $61.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract had slipped earlier, dropping into mid-$60 territory. Yesterday, the price soared $2.02 to settle at $61.54.

The Wednesday afternoon rise coincided with a slew of economic data releases.

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve released minutes from its Open Markets Committee meeting from June. Adding to the sentiment that the economic slowdown may be easing, the group forecast that the economy would contract less than previous predictions.

Wednesday also brought the Energy Information Administration's weekly crude supply report. The agency reported that crude inventories fell more than expected, though gas stocks grew more than anticipated.

Most of the major energy stocks tracked along with gains made throughout the market on Wednesday. But a few were in negative territory in the early going today. Exxon Mobil ( XOM) and Chevron ( CVX) each finished Wednesday in positive territory, gaining 3.4% and 2.5%, respectively. Today, Exxon Mobil was down 0.3%, or 22 cents, at $68.22, while Chevron was losing 9 cents at $64.48.

ConocoPhillips ( COP) was adding to gains from yesterday, up another 1.1% in the early going. Meanwhile, Occidental Petroleum ( OXY), which went up 3.8% yesterday, was down 0.4%, or 28 cents, at $66.46.

The NYSE Arca Oil Index, which tracked up 3.4% on Wednesday, was down 0.3% today.

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