NEW YORK, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Oil prices gained about 3% on Thursday as positive U.S. economic data and robust U.S. fuel consumption offset concerns that slowing economic growth in other countries could undercut demand.
Brent futures rose $2.94, or 3.1%, to settle at $96.59 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose $2.39, or 2.7%, to settle at $90.50.
Prices rose more than 1% during the previous session, although Brent at one point fell to its lowest since February, as signs of a slowdown mounted in some places.
"Oil prices rallied after another round of impressive U.S. economic data boosted optimism for an improving crude demand outlook," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at data and analytics firm OANDA. Moya also noted that OPEC will not allow the recent pullback in oil prices to continue much further.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week and the prior period's data was revised sharply lower, suggesting labor market conditions remain tight despite slower momentum due to higher interest rates.