Oil below US$102 as traders eye US jobs data


SINGAPORE–Oil prices fell below US$102 a barrel Friday in Asia amid investor concern U.S. jobs growth last month may disappoint and suggest demand is weakening. Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 98 cents to US$101.56 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell US$2.68 to settle at US$102.54 in New York on Thursday. Brent crude for June delivery was down 67 cents at US$115.41 per barrel in London. In other energy trading, heating oil was down 1.3 cents at US$3.07 per gallon and gasoline futures fell 0.1 cent at US$3.04 per gallon. Natural gas was up 2 cents at US$2.36 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Traders will be closely watching April employment figures scheduled to be released later Friday. Analysts expect the economy added about 165,000 jobs last month. Businesses created 120,000 jobs in March, far fewer than the 205,000 that analysts had forecast. On Thursday, the government said worker productivity fell sharply in the first three months of the year while U.S. service companies, which employ about 90 percent of the work force, expanded more slowly in April. “The markets will be holding a collective breath ahead of the U.S. jobs report,” energy trader and consultant The Schork Group said in a report. “Recent headlines suggest the number might underwhelm.” Oil prices have been little changed on light trading volume during Asian business hours this week amid a slew of public holidays across the region.