Investing.com – Nymex crude prices fluctuated between small gains and losses during Asian trading hours on Friday as many investors remained on the sidelines to await the release of January jobs report in the U.S.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March traded at USD97.92 a barrel during Asian trading, up 0.04%.
On Thursday, the New York-traded oil futures hit a session low of USD97.86 a barrel and a high of USD97.99 a barrel to settle at USD97.88 a barrel.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD97.44 a barrel, the earlier low, and resistance at USD98.82 a barrel, the earlier high.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 20,000 to 331,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 351,000. Analysts were expecting jobless claims to fall by 16,000.
A separate report showed that the U.S. trade deficit widened significantly in December, as exports dropped 2.2% and imports rose 1.6%.
Poor U.S. manufacturing data released earlier in the week sparked concerns over a possible slowdown in the economic recovery that softened oil prices.
Growing sentiments that harsh winter weather may be bruising economic indicators and not waning demand gave oil some support, though many traders were eager to see more data to support that notion, Friday''s jobs report especially.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for March delivery were up 0.01% and trading at 107.37 a barrel, while the spread between the Brent and U.S. crude contracts stood at 9.45 a barrel.