Oil Rises on Solid Gain in US Hiring; Gasoline Up

NEW YORK (AP) -

The price of oil crept up to near $102 a barrel Friday, after a solid increase in U.S. employment and a decline in the dollar.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery rose $1.02 to close at $102.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. After a swing in prices earlier in the week due to the situation in Ukraine, oil ended the week with a loss of 1 cent.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained 90 cents to $109 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The brutal winter weather didn’t faze U.S. employers, who added 175,000 jobs, far more than the two previous months. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent, but that was because more people grew optimistic about their job prospects and began seeking work.

The dollar fell against other currencies, helping oil. A weak dollar encourages holders of other currencies to buy dollar-denominated assets such as oil.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

  • Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.97 per gallon.
  • Heating oil added 3 cents to $3.01 per gallon.
  • Natural gas fell 4 cents to $4.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In trading of agricultural commodities, wheat and soybeans rose. Corn fell.

Wheat for May delivery rose 8 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $6.54 a bushel. Soybeans for the same month climbed 19.75 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $14.58 a bushel. Corn for May fell 2 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $4.89 a bushel.

In metals trading, copper plunged on concerns about the health of the Chinese economy. China is one of the world’s largest consumers of the metal, which has many industrial uses.

May copper fell 13.55 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $3.08 a pound. Silver for the same month fell 64.6 cents, or 3 percent, to $20.93 an ounce. Gold for April delivery dropped $13.60, or 1 percent, to $1,338.20 an ounce.

Platinum for April fell $3.20, or 0.2 percent, to $1,483.60 an ounce. Palladium for June rose 65 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $781.80 an ounce.