(Crude oil story updated for Thursday market close)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Oil prices climbed above $75 on Thursday, and stayed there, as a decline in initial jobless claims spurred the markets higher, and a key government crude oil inventory report showed a larger than anticipated decline in crude stockpiles. Crude for August delivery gave back its big early gains at midday on Thursday, but recovered later in the afternoon to a settle price of $75.44. The trading in oil matched the larger market moves, with big morning gains trimmed by midday, but the markets resurgent near the close. Crude oil reached an intra-day high of $75.90 on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Thursday's crude oil trading continued the Wednesday rally, when crude broke a six-session losing streak, with the August crude contract settling at $74.07. The closely watched U.S. Department of Energy crude inventory report showed an increase in gasoline and distillate stockpiles. U.S. crude oil inventories decreased by 5 million barrels for the week ended July 2, a bigger decline than expected by analysts surveyed by Platts, who had forecast a decline of 3.5 million barrels of oil. Analysts polled by Reuters expected an even smaller decline of 2.3 million barrels. Gasoline inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week, while distillate fuel inventories increased by 300,000 barrels, according to the Department of Energy. Late on Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute said that crude inventory fell by a larger than expected 7.3 million barrels, twice the expectation of economists who had predicted a decline in petroleum stockpiles of 3.5 million barrels.