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Oil hits above $86 as US jobs market improves

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Oil prices rose above $85 a barrel Monday in Asia, extending gains from last week as investors bet an improving U.S. job market will herald growing crude demand.

Benchmark crude for May delivery was up 30 cents to $85.17 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract climbed up $1.11 to settle at $84.87 on Thursday following a gain of $1.39 on Wednesday.

Global oil trading was closed for the Good Friday holiday.

Crude has jumped from $69 a barrel in early February on expectations a growing U.S. economy will eventually spark higher oil consumption.

On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department said employers added 162,000 jobs in March, the largest job gain in three years. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.7 percent for the third straight month.

“The market was positive before but now it’s been confirmed,” said Clarence Chu, a trader with market maker Hudson Capital Energy in Singapore. “If the job growth can be sustained for several months, we’ll definitely see crude demand pick up.”

In other Nymex trading in May contracts, heating oil rose 0.86 cent to $2.225 a gallon, and gasoline gained 1.03 cents to $2.334 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.5 cents to $4.061 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude was up 12 cents at $84.13 on the ICE futures exchange.

Source: AP

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