Oil prices surged on Thursday as economic data around the globe added optimism to economic growth. In the week ending July 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless benefits claims decreased 19,000 to 326, 000, the lowest level in five and a half years, while the four- week moving average dropped 4,500 to 341,250, the Labor Department reported Thursday. In addition, the U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers\' Index rose to 53.7 in July from an eight-month low of 51.9 in June, the strongest manufacturing expansion in four months, according to a report released by Markit, a leading global financial information services company. Upbeat Chinese manufacturing data also helped to add some momentum to the rise of oil prices. China\'s purchasing managers\' index for the manufacturing sector rose slightly to 50.3 percent in July from 50.1 in June, official data revealed. Moreover, concerns over disruptions in Libya, Iraq and Nigeria which may trim supplies also pushed up crude oil prices. The U.S. real GDP increased at an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to the \"advance\" estimate released Wednesday by the Commerce Department. Analysts had forecast the rate at 1.1 percent. The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday it would continue its current monetary stimulus to bolster the slow economic growth and job creation. The announcement was widely within market expectations. But the central bank slightly downgraded its view of the U.S. economy, saying economic activity was expanding at a \"modest\" pace compared to \"moderate\" in its June meeting statement. Light, sweet crude for September delivery went up 2.86 dollars to settle at 107.89 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent for September delivery soared 1.84 dollars to close at 109.54 dollars a barrel.