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Oil above USD 80 as traders look to US jobs data

Oil prices rose above USD 80 a barrel on Monday in Asia as investors look to a key US jobs report later this week for clues about the outlook for consumer spending.

business Updated: Mar 29, 2010 10:51 IST

Oil prices rose above USD 80 a barrel on Monday in Asia as investors look to a key US jobs report later this week for clues about the outlook for consumer spending.

Benchmark crude for May delivery was up 46 cents to USD 80.46 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 53 cents to settle at USD 80 on Friday.

Oil has drifted in the low USD 80s for two weeks as investors mull whether slack crude demand from the US and Europe justify higher prices.

The Labor Department is scheduled to announce March employment data on Friday, and forecasters expect the unemployment rate to remain at 9.7 per cent, despite an increase of about 200,000 jobs.

"The US and Europe still have horrible unemployment situations," Sander Capital said in a report.

"Oil should keep in a range between USD77 and USD82."

In other Nymex trading in April contracts, heating oil rose 1.25 cents to USD 2.082 a gallon, and gasoline gained 0.95 cent to USD 2.217 a gallon. Natural gas was steady at USD 3.870 per 1,000 cubic feet. In London, Brent crude was up 40 cents at USD 79.69 on the ICE futures exchange.