WASHINGTON The price of oil climbed again Friday as a better-than-expected U.S. jobs report pointed to growth and a rising demand for energy this year.
Benchmark crude for June delivery was up $1.61, to $95.60 a barrel, in morning trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Oil jumped after the Labor Department said that employers added a solid 165,000 jobs in April and far more in February and March than first thought. Job growth in April drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 percent and sent a reassuring sign that the U.S. jobs market is improving.
Oil started the week around $93 a barrel, and, after a brief retreat below $91 at midweek, kept pushing higher. Crude rose sharply Thursday after the European Central Bank cut its key interest rate to a new low and weekly U.S. unemployment benefit claims dropped. The Nymex contract rose 3.3 percent, its biggest one-day gain since November.
"The recent rebound in crude oil prices is a result of more confidence in the global economy as ECB and Fed decisions to stimulate growth could bring a boost in oil demand for the second half of 2013,'' said analysts at Sucden Financial Research in London.
Oil is getting support from a weaker dollar as well. The euro was at 1.3114 against the dollar Friday versus 1.3067 late Thursday. Because oil is bought and sold in dollars, it becomes attractive to investors with foreign currency when the dollar falls in currency trade.
Gasoline prices held steady at the pump. The national average Friday was $3.52 a gallon. That's down about 12 cents from a month ago and 28 cents lower than a year ago.
Brent crude, which is used to set prices of oil from the North Sea used by many U.S. refiners, was up $1.75, to $104.60 per barrel, on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading, on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.82 a gallon.
Heating oil added 4 cents to $2.89 a gallon.
Natural gas rose 1 cent to $4.04 per 1,000 cubic feet.