The price of oil rebounded slightly Friday while staying below $100 a barrel on a big jump of new jobs in the U.S. and as Ukraine launched an offensive against pro-Russia forces in the country’s east.
By mid-afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. crude oil for June delivery was up 30 cents to $99.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the Nymex contract dropped 32 cents to settle at $99.42.
Prices fell below $100 earlier in the week, mostly on a surge in U.S. supplies of crude oil, which rose by 1.7 million barrels last week to a record 399.4 million barrels, according to Wednesday’s data from the Energy Department.
Brent crude, an international oil benchmark, was up 59 cents Friday to $108.35 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
The Labor Department said U.S employers added 288,000 jobs in April, the most in two years, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, its lowest level since September 2008.
“The report may represent some catch-up from the hit the economy apparently took over the brutal winter months,” said the Kilduff Report edited by Michael Fitzpatrick.
The possibility of a significant escalation of combat in eastern Ukraine also supported oil prices.
Clashes between government forces and pro-Russia insurgents came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine should withdraw its military units from the eastern and southern regions of the country.
Western sanctions against Russia have not directly affected its energy industry, which is a key supplier of oil and natural gas to Europe. There are concerns, however, that if the conflict intensifies, pipeline flows could come under risk.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
– Wholesale gasoline was down 0.01 cent to $2.9387 a gallon.
– Heating oil added 1.05 cent to $2.9245 a gallon.
– Natural gas rose 3.2 cents to $4.751 per 1,000 cubic feet.