Oil below $103 as traders eye key US jobs data

May 4, 2012 - 1:15 AM

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices hovered below $103 a barrel Friday in Asia amid investor concern U.S. jobs growth last month may disappoint and suggest demand is weakening.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 8 cents to $102.62 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.68 to settle at $102.54 in New York on Thursday.

Brent crude for June delivery was up 10 cents at $116.18 per barrel in London.

Traders will be closely watching April employment figures scheduled to be released later Friday. Analysts expect the economy added about 165,000 jobs last month. Businesses created 120,000 jobs in March, far fewer than the 205,000 that analysts had forecast.

On Thursday, the government said worker productivity fell sharply in the first three months of the year while U.S. service companies, which employ about 90 percent of the work force, expanded more slowly in April.

"The markets will be holding a collective breath ahead of the U.S. jobs report," energy trader and consultant The Schork Group said in a report. "Recent headlines suggest the number might underwhelm."

Oil prices have been little changed on light trading volume this week during Asian business hours amid a slew of public holidays across the region.

In other energy trading, heating oil was up 0.5 cent at $3.09 per gallon and gasoline futures added 0.2 cent at $3.05 per gallon. Natural gas was steady at $2.34 per 1,000 cubic feet.