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Oil prices below $101 per barrel

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Oil prices hovered below $101 a barrel Friday in Asia ahead of a key U.S. jobs report.

Benchmark oil for July delivery was up 15 cents to $100.55 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 11 cents to settle at $100.40 on Thursday.

In London, Brent crude for July delivery was down 12 cents to $115.42 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Crude has fallen from $115 on May 2 amid signs U.S. economic growth this year could be weaker than previously anticipated. On Thursday, the Energy Information Administration said demand for petroleum products dropped last week for the fourth week in a row.

Traders will be closely watching the Labor Department’s May employment report, which is scheduled to be released later Friday. Economists expect that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent from 9.0 percent in April.

“Given the past months pattern of economic releases that have fallen short of average industry expectations, any surprises (on the jobs data) are apt to fall toward the bearish side,” Ritterbusch and Associates said in a report. “A negative number could easily trigger another sharp sell-off.”

In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil rose 0.3 cent at $3.05 a gallon and gasoline advanced 0.9 cents to $2.98 a gallon. Natural gas futures dropped 1.6 cents to $4.78 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Source: AP

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