Crude traded near its highest closing price in more than a week in New York after the U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer, added more jobs than forecast.
West Texas Intermediate was little changed, having fallen as much as 1 percent, after a net 171,000 workers were added to payrolls in October, Labor Department data showed. The median forecast of 91 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted an advance of 125,000. Prices fell earlier as Phillips 66 and Hess Corp.’s New Jersey refineries remained shut four days after Hurricane Sandy struck the East coast.
“The worst is over for the U.S.,” said Thina Saltvedt, an analyst at Nordea Bank AB who forecasts Brent crude will average $109 this quarter. “It is the most important oil consumer and although it took a very long time we’re seeing the U.S. heading economy slowly heading up.”
WTI for December delivery was at $86.70 a barrel, 39 cents lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1:11 p.m. London time. It advanced 85 cents to $87.09 yesterday, the highest close since Oct. 22.
Brent for December settlement was at $108.74 a barrel, up 57 cents, on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude grade was at a $21.80 premium to WTI. The gap narrowed by the most in the two weeks yesterday, shrinking $1.38 to $21.08.
Hiring in the U.S. increased more than forecast in October as employers looked past slowing global growth and political gridlock at home, the last jobs report before next week’s election showed. Still, the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent as more people entered the labor force.
A gauge of manufacturing in the 17-nation euro area fell to 45.4 from 46.1 in September, snapping two months of advances, London-based Markit Economics said today. That compares with an initial estimate of 45.3 published on Oct. 24. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
There’s “a lot of concern in the market that you’re going to see a dampening effect on economic activity because of the storm, and consequently oil demand,” Soozhana Choi, the head of Asia commodities research at Deutsche Bank AG in Singapore, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “On the Move Asia.”