Oil prices rose on Friday after a poor U.S. December jobs report fanned expectations for the Federal Reserve to taper its monthly bond-buying program on a very gradual basis, which would elevate crude and other commodities by weakening the greenback.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in February traded at USD92.39 a barrel during U.S. morning trade, up 0.80%. New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of USD92.00 a barrel and a high of USD93.35 a barrel.
The February contract settled down 1.43% at USD92.33 a barrel on Wednesday. Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD91.25 a barrel, Thursday''s low, and resistance at USD94.58 a barrel, Monday''s high.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier that the U.S. economy added 74,000 jobs in December, well below expectations for a 196,000 increase and below an upwardly revised 241,000 rise the previous month.
The U.S. private sector added 87,000 jobs last month, disappointing expectations for 195,000 rise, after an upwardly increase of 226,000 in November.
The report also showed that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December due to a weak participation rate, down from 7.0% in November. Analysts had expected the rate to remain unchanged last month.
The numbers weakened the dollar by fueling expectations for the Federal Reserve to trim its USD75 billion monthly bond-buying program at a slower pace than once expected.
Fed asset purchases tend to weaken the greenback by suppressing long-term interest rates, and a weaker U.S. currency makes oil and other commodities attractive buys on dollar-denominated exchanges.
Oil prices also rose on data revealing that China''s crude imports rose by 13% from a year earlier to a record 6.31 million barrels per day in December.
China is the world''s second biggest oil consumer.
Capping gains, however, were concerns the poor jobs numbers reflected a U.S. economy that is still battling potholes on its road to recovery and may demand less fuel and energy than hoped.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for February delivery were up 0.46% to trade at USD106.88 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at USD14.49 a barrel.