WTI Oil Holds Near $100 Before U.S. Payrolls Data; Brent Steady

West Texas Intermediate crude traded near $100 a barrel amid speculation that data will show jobs rose last month in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil user. Brent was steady in London.

Futures were little changed in New York after advancing for the first time in four days yesterday. U.S. employers probably added 200,000 workers to nonfarm payrolls in March, the most since November, according to a Bloomberg News survey before Labor Department data today. Libyan rebels are ready to open oil ports within 48 hours, Sliman Qajam, a member of the country’s parliamentary energy committee, said yesterday. Output from the African nation has slipped amid unrest.

“The jobs figure in the U.S. is something that markets are watching,” said Ric Spooner, a chief strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “The Libyan negotiations are one of those geopolitical situations that has a clear and present impact on oil. The capacity is there, it’s just a matter if it’s going to be turned on or off and it can happen quite quickly.”

WTI for May delivery was at $100.36 a barrel, up 7 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:21 a.m. Sydney time. The contract rose 0.7 percent to $100.29 yesterday, paring the first weekly decline in three. The volume of all futures traded was about 77 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are down 1.3 percent this week.

Brent for May settlement was up 4 cents at $106.19 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude was at a $5.83 premium to WTI, after the spread widened for the first time in seven days to $5.86 yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sharples in Melbourne at bsharples@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pratish Narayanan at pnarayanan9@bloomberg.net

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