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Markets

Oil steady as US jobs report disappoints

  • New Covid variant appears to restrain US job growth
  • US Gulf Coast struggles to recover after storm
  • OPEC+ agrees to boost production
  • Global demand outlook bright on recovery hopes
Published September 3, 2021

LONDON: Oil prices were steady on Friday after a US jobs report indicated a patchy recovery amid the pandemic but the demand picture remained bright globally and the aftermath of a US hurricane also checked losses.

Brent crude futures were up 8 cents to $73.11 a barrel at 1415 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 5 cents at $69.94 a barrel. Both benchmark oil contracts were largely steady for the week.

Non-farm payrolls missed expectations with an increase of 235,000 jobs amid a softening in demand for services and persistent worker shortages as COVID-19 infections soared. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast non-farm payrolls increasing by 728,000 jobs.

Meanwhile about 1.7 million barrels per day of oil production remains shut in the US Gulf of Mexico, with damage to heliports and fuel depots slowing the return of crews to offshore platforms, sources told Reuters.

US job growth slows sharply in August; unemployment rate falls to 5.2%

"The prolonged US Gulf production and Louisiana refining capacity outages, which are bound to carve a bigger hole in the already diminished US oil stockpiles, as well as data showing continued strong domestic fuel demand recovery are supportive factors," said Vandana Hari, energy analyst at Vanda Insights.

Some analysts see room for further price gains amid tightening crude supplies and signs of recovering demand after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, stuck to a plan to add 400,00 barrels per day (bpd) to the market over the next few months.

The United States welcomed the move and pledged to press the exporter club to do more to support economic recovery by unleashing production.

"With an oil market still strongly in deficit for the remainder of the year, oil seems poised to rally further as OPEC+ signals discipline in easing cuts and as US stockpiles continue to decline," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

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