Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
The price of oil inched up to near $97 a barrel on Thursday, as markets awaited the outcome of a European Central Bank policy meeting and a report on U.S. jobless claims.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for March delivery was up 29 cents to $96.91 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 2 cents to finish at $96.62 a barrel on Wednesday, recovering from a low of $95.04 earlier in the session.
While the ECB is not expected to cut interest rates Thursday, attention will be focused on President Mario Draghi’s post-meeting comments about the strength of the euro.
The euro has been gaining on the dollar over the past months, rising from around $1.23 in mid-August to over $1.35 this week. A strong euro hurts the export prospects of the 17 countries in the common currency zone and it also tends to result in higher oil prices by making crude priced in dollars cheaper — and a more enticing investment — for traders using currencies other than the greenback.
On Thursday, the euro was at $1.3562, up from $1.3520 late Wednesday in New York.
“Crude oil prices rebounded and climbed higher ahead of the crucial ECB meeting, as risk appetite increased,” said a report from Sucden Financial Research in London. “In addition, the release of the weekly jobless claims figures could give some direction to the (dollar) and provide some momentum to the oil market.”
Wednesday’s oil price recovery was attributed mainly to a small-than-forecast rise in U.S. crude stocks, with analysts highlighting data from the Department of Energy showing a “strong decline” of U.S. crude imports from Saudi Arabia.
“On the four week average, they have fallen below 1 million barrels a day for the first time since 2011,” said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Switzerland. “The U.S. needs to import less crude due to the increase in its domestic production and our opinion remains that Saudi Arabia is cutting production and exports to prevent a global stock build that would come from a re-direction of the crude that it is not shipping to the U.S.”
In London, Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was up 90 cents to $117.63 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline added 2.1 cents to $3.0607 a gallon.
— Natural gas advanced 3.1 cents to $3.449 per 1,000 cubic feet.
— Heating oil gained 1.59 cents to $3.2017 a gallon.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.