Oil Up on Jobs Data

NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil was up slightly Friday, as a strong U.S. jobs report was tempered by gains in the dollar.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 39 cents to finish at $91.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Labor Department said employers added 236,000 jobs last month, far exceeding economists' predictions. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent. That could signal increased demand for oil products if more drivers are joining the daily commute.

But the report also supported the U.S. dollar against the euro, yen, and other currencies. A stronger dollar makes oil a less enticing investment for traders using those other currencies, since oil is traded in dollars.

Crude prices have not benefited much from the growing optimism in stock markets, which has pushed the Dow Jones industrial average to new highs this week. Oil prices are near their lows for the year because of lingering concerns about global economic growth and ample crude supplies in the U.S.

Lower oil prices have pulled down prices at the gas station. The average price for a gallon of gas fell another penny to $3.71, the lowest level in three weeks. The pump price has fallen for nine straight days after hitting a high of $3.79 on Feb. 27. Gas is 5 cents cheaper than it was a year ago.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was down 30 cents to end at $110.85 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. The falling price was attributed to the reopening of a North Sea pipeline carrying 90,000 barrels a day, which had been shut for repairs.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

  • Wholesale gasoline rose 8 cents to finish at $3.20 a gallon.
  • Heating oil fell less than a cent to end at $2.97 a gallon.
  • Natural gas rose 5 cents to finish at $3.63 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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