Oil rises to near $102 a barrel on better than expected US hiring figures

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

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery rose $1.02 to close at US$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 one cent.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained 90 cents to US$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 U.S. Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 per cent from a five-year low of 6.6 per cent, but that was because more people grew optimistic about their job prospects and began seeking work.

The U.S. greenback fell against most other major 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 three cents to US$2.97 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), heating oil added three cents to US$3.01 a gallon and natural gas fell four cents to US$4.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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