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Oil prices slip slightly ahead of US employment data for February

The price of oil eased slightly Friday, reflecting caution as investors wait for the latest U.S. employment figures.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was down 24 cents to $91.33 per barrel at midday Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract gained $1.13 to finish at $91.56 a barrel on Nymex on Thursday, pushed higher by the release of data showing a drop in applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S.

On Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department will release jobs data for February. Analysts expect the report to show that employers in the U.S., the biggest consumer of oil and petroleum products, added 152,000 jobs last month.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell 31 cents at $110.84 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.7 cent to $3.13 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 0.8 cent to $2.971 a gallon.

— Natural gas rose 0.1 cent to $3.583 per 1,000 cubic feet.