World oil prices rose Friday on nervous trade ahead of a closely-watched US jobs report to be released later in the day, analysts said.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in March, gained 65 cents to $97.01 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for March delivery rose 38 cents to $112.45 a barrel in London late morning deals.
“Oil investors have turned cautious ahead of Friday’s US government report on non-farm payrolls and unemployment,” Phillip Futures said in a report.
Analysts expect the report, seen as a barometer of the US economy’s health, to show a fall in the net number of jobs added to the economy in January, to 155,000 from 200,000 in December.
No improvement in the unemployment rate of 8.5 percent is forecast, a worrying sign for the economy of the world’s largest oil consumer.
“In the face of the jobs forecast, oil investors shrugged off US economic reports… which showed that jobless benefit claims fell last week and US non-farm productivity rose in the fourth quarter,” Phillip Futures added.
Thursday’s Labor Department report on weekly new claims for unemployment benefits, an indicator of the pace of layoffs, fell for the fourth straight week and was 12 percent lower than one year ago.
Official figures also showed US non-farm productivity numbers growing at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, beating analyst forecasts of a 2.0 percent hike.