Crude oil pricecs rose during Asian trading on Monday after weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data fanned speculation that the Federal Reserve will scale down its bond-buying program at a slower pace than previously anticipated.
The Fed’s stimulus program is viewed by many investors as a key driver in boosting the price of commodities as it tends to depress the value of the dollar.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in February rose 0.08% during Asian trading on Monday at USD93.02.
Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD91.24 a barrel, the low from January 9 and resistance at USD94.18 a barrel, the high from January 8. During the last week, U.S. crude futures, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, lost 1.55%, the second consecutive weekly decline.
The U.S. economy added 74,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department said, the smallest increase since January 2011 and well below expectations for 196,000 new jobs.
The unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 6.7% from 7% in November, but this was due in part to people dropping out of the labor force. The labor participation rate fell to an almost 35-year low of 62.8%.
The disappointing data tempered expectations that the Fed would cut its stimulus program again this month. The central bank cited a stronger labor market in its decision to taper its asset purchase program by USD10 billion in December to USD75 billion-a-month.
Minutes of the Fed’s December meeting released last week showed that officials were keen to stress that further reductions in stimulus were not on a “preset course” and would be undertaken in “measured” steps. The central bank is scheduled to meet January 28-29 to review the economy and assess policy.
The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of six other major currencies, declined 0.01% at 80.73.
Dollar-denominated oil futures contracts tend to rise when the dollar falls, as this makes oil cheaper for buyers in other currencies.
The CFTC Commitments of Traders report for the week ending January 7 showed that speculators sharply increased their net-short exposure to NYMEX crude futures. Money managers boosted their net short oil positions by 18,115 contracts to 52,674, while reducing net long positions by 3,576 contracts to 293,342.
During the week, investors will be closely watching U.S. data on retail sales, inflation and consumer sentiment, as well as speeches by two Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for February delivery advanced 0.81% on Friday to settle the week at USD107.25 a barrel. Earlier in the session, London-traded Brent prices fell to USD106.03 a barrel, the lowest since November 13.
The February Brent contract inched up 0.20%. Meanwhile, the spread between the Brent and the crude contracts stood at USD13.80 a barrel
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