Oil prices were back near $124 a barrel Friday, reacting bullishly to US employment data but kept in check by expectations that slowing economic growth in developed countries will cut demand. US government data showed employers cut fewer jobs than economists expected 51,000 jobs were eliminated in July against an expected loss of 72,000 but the July unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent from 5.5 percent in June, a five-year peak and slightly higher than forecast. July car sales figures will also be released Friday, another guiding point for the markets wanting to know where the American economy is heading. By afternoon in Europe, light, sweet crude for September delivery was off earlier lows and down just 9 cents to $123.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $2.69 overnight to settle at $124.08 a barrel.