Oil could be a big factor Thursday after price slump

U.S. oil futures reversed course Thursday after threatening to crack $50 per barrel Wednesday, with just weeks to go before OPEC and other producers have to sign off on a new deal to hold down production.

The rapid decline in prices Wednesday was partly a technical response to the May futures contract’s expiration, as well as a negative response to an unexpected increase in U.S. gasoline supplies. That futures contract expires at the close Thursday, and it lost 3.8 percent to $50.44 per barrel Wednesday. The June contract fell to about the same level.

But on Thursday Saudi Arabia’s oil minister helped calm crude, which was higher in early U.S. trading…


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