Oil settles above 81 dollars on upbeat job report

08:29, March 08, 2010      

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Oil prices rallied to settle above 81 U.S. dollars on Friday as the better-than-expected February employment report lifted market sentiment.

The U.S. Labor Department said U.S. employers cut a smaller- than-expected 36,000 jobs in February, leaving the unemployment rate steady at 9.7 percent, while economists expected it to rise to 9.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of temporary help jobs, which is regarded as a sing for future hiring, rose by 48,000 while the average hourly earnings of employees rose 3 cents to 22.46 dollars.

The report was closely watched by the market as the stabilization in the job market is crucial to a sustained economic recovery and investors believed the report may set the tone for the market in the coming one or two weeks.

Oil prices have been moving between 69 and 84 U.S. dollars a barrel in the past few months, as investors tried to define the strength and sustainability of recovery.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery gained 1.29 dollars to settle at 81.50 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London, Brent crude for April settlement rose 1.57 dollars to 80.11 dollars a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

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