WTI crude rises after jobs data

West Texas Intermediate (NYMEX:CLN14) advanced from its lowest settlement in three days after the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer, added more jobs than forecast. Brent (NYMEX:SCN14) was steady in London as Libyan production stabilized.

Futures climbed 0.5 percent in New York. Employers added 217,000 jobs in May to push U.S. payrolls past their pre- recession peak. The jobless rate held at an almost six-year low as the economy gained traction. Output in Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, was stable at 171,000 barrels a day as of yesterday, according to National Oil Corp.

“As far as the oil market is concerned, the U.S. is still quite healthy,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London. “The U.S. economy is doing well. Unemployment held at 6.3 percent, while people were expecting 6.4.”

WTI for July delivery gained as much as 52 cents to $103 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and traded for $102.87 at 1:47 p.m. London time. The contract slid 16 cents to $102.48 yesterday, the lowest in three days. The volume of all futures traded was about 16 percent less than the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices are up 0.2 percent this week.

Brent for July settlement was 17 cents higher at $108.96 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude traded at a premium of $6.06 to WTI, compared with $6.70 on May 30.

Jobs growth

The advance in U.S. jobs was broad-based and followed a 282,000 gain in April, figures from the Labor Department showed in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 215,000 increase. Unemployment in May was unchanged at 6.3 percent.

In Libya, production expanded to 171,000 barrels a day from 168,000 barrels the previous day, said Mohamed Elharari, a spokesman for the state-run NOC. Output from the nation, which holds Africa’s largest crude reserves, has shrunk in the past year because of unrest.

OPEC may cut exports in the four weeks to June 21 as routine refinery maintenance in Asia reduces consumption, according to Oil Movements, a tanker tracker. Shipments from 10 group members, excluding Ecuador and Angola, will probably drop by 110,000 barrels a day to 23.34 million, compared with 23.45 million in the four weeks through May 24, said Roy Mason, the founder of the consultant in Halifax, England.

OPEC, which pumps about 40 percent of the world’s crude, is scheduled to meet in Vienna on June 11.

WTI may fall next week amid concern that demand will be weaker, a separate Bloomberg survey shows. Seventeen of 34 analysts and traders, or 50 percent, estimated futures will decrease through June 13 while seven predicted a price gain.

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