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Markets

Brent dips ahead of US jobs data

LONDON: Brent crude dipped slightly on Friday, holding around $125, having risen a more than $3 over the past two sessio
09 Mar 2012

oil-fieldLONDON: Brent crude dipped slightly on Friday, holding around $125, having risen a more than $3 over the past two sessions ahead of the Greek bond swap deal, and as investors' focus has shifted to the US jobs report later in the day.

Brent crude lost 5 cents to $125.39 a barrel by 0957 GMT. On weekly basis, Brent is set to mark a marginal gain and its sixth weekly gain in seven.

US crude was up 33 cents at $106.91 a barrel.

Greece said 85.8 percent of private creditors had accepted its bond swap offer, averting the immediate risk of an uncontrolled default.

Oil was supported by data out of top energy consumer China. It showed annual inflation cooled to a 20-month low of 3.2 percent in February, below its 2012 target of 4 percent, giving policymakers room to ease monetary policy to support slowing growth.

"Today, news is on the bullish side for oil and commodities, the Greek debt swap deal and the Chinese data," Andy Sommer, oil market analyst with EGL in Switzerland, said.

"People realise price of oil is very high and it should have negative impact on oil demand. The price has risen so much recently so they are waiting for the US payroll data later today to decide what they should do next."

US employment likely grew solidly for a third straight month in February, a sign the economic recovery is becoming more durable and in less need of further monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The US Labor Department will release the employment report at 1330 GMT.

The US economy probably created 210,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey, following January's tally of 243,000. The unemployment rate is expected to have held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent.

Reuters data shows Brent crude prices have risen about 17 percent so far this year and US crude have gained about 8 percent, pushing up fuel prices at pump high across the world.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu repeated the Obama administration's position that releasing crude oil from US reserves in an effort to bring down rising gas prices was still an "option on the table".

Chu's comment came although the International Energy Agency (IEA) said last week the agency saw no need to release oil stockpiles.

The IEA advises 28 industrialised nations and the United States is a member.

Copyright Reuters, 2012