New York-traded crude oil futures rose to a five-week high on Friday, as upbeat U.S. economic data boosted optimism over the health of the world’s largest oil-consuming nation. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for delivery in January inched up 0.28% on Friday to settle the week at USD97.65 a barrel by close of trade. Earlier in the session, Nymex oil prices rallied to USD98.07 a barrel, the highest since October 29. The January contract settled 0.19% higher on Thursday to end at USD97.38 a barrel. Nymex oil futures were likely to find support at USD96.30 a barrel, the low from December 4 and resistance at USD98.51 a barrel, the high from October 29. On the week, U.S. oil futures surged 5.04%, the biggest weekly gain since July.
The U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs in November, above expectations for jobs growth of 180,000, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 7.0% from 7.3% in October. Oil traders have long been taking cues from the monthly U.S. jobs report because it offers insight into the economic health of the world’s biggest crude-oil consumer. The upbeat jobs report came one day after official data showed that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.6% in the three months to September, well above the preliminary estimate for 2.6%.
An improving economy is generally correlated with increased demand for oil and fuel products like gasoline. U.S. crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, received a further boost amid receding concerns over rising U.S. inventories.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that crude oil inventories fell by 5.6 million barrels last week to 385.8 million, the first weekly decline in 11 weeks. Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil futures for January delivery added 0.57% on Friday to settle the week at USD111.61 a barrel. The January Brent contract gained 1.72% on the week.