Oil prices rose Thursday as weekly jobless claims of the United States dropped more than expected. The initial claims of the U.S. unemployment benefits dropped by 20,000 to 331,000 in the week ending Feb. 1, the Labor Department reported Thursday. This is the first decline in three weeks and less than market consensus of 335,000. The department reported in a separate report that the U.S. nonfarm business sector labor productivity rose at a 3.2 percent annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2013, while unit labor costs fell 1.6 percent in the same quarter. Traders believed the upbeat jobs data is a good economic sign for the world's No.1 crude consumption country. The cold temperatures across the northeast U.S. also supported the crude prices. Analysts expected that the demand for heating oil would increase. The fuel inventories of the United States, which include heating oil and diesel fell last week, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. Light, sweet crude for March delivery moved up 46 cents to settle at 97.84 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for March delivery gained 94 cents to close at 107.19 dollars a barrel.