Crude oil moves higher above $97 a barrel after stronger US economic growth and jobs data
The price of oil moved higher above $97 a barrel Friday, buoyed by stronger economic growth and falling unemployment in the world's largest economy.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was up 27 cents at $97.33 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, oil rose to near $98 for the first time in five weeks before closing at $97.38, up 18 cents.
U.S. data showed the outlook for hiring is improving and the economy is growing at its fastest pace in more than a year.
On Friday, the Labor Department said the U.S. unemployment rate in November fell to a five-year low of 7 percent from 7.3 percent in October. Employers added 203,000 jobs last month, many in higher-paying sectors like manufacturing and construction.
The jobs report came after Thursday's data from the Commerce Department showing that the U.S. economy grew at a 3.6 percent annualized rate in July through September, the fastest since early 2012. The numbers signaled momentum in the economy, although some economists cautioned that nearly half the growth came from a buildup in business stockpiles, a trend that could reverse in the current quarter.
Analysts at Commerzbank in Frankfurt noted that storms and cold weather were hampering oil production in the North Sea as well as in North Dakota and Texas.
"Because of their shale oil reserves, the two U.S. states together account for the lion's share of this year's growth in U.S. oil production," the Commerzbank analysts said in a note to clients. "The lower oil production is likely to bring about a decline in U.S. crude oil stocks."
The Energy Department on Wednesday said that U.S. oil stockpiles fell last week after 10 consecutive weeks of expanding supplies.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up 84 cents to $111.82 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
- Wholesale gasoline rose 3.21 cents to $2.7448 a gallon.
- Heating oil added 2.11 cents to $3.0707 a gallon.
- Natural gas advanced 2.4 cents to $4.156 per 1,000 cubic feet.