Oil Falls Below $81 as Markets Wait Jobs Report

Oil prices slipped below $81 a barrel Friday in Asia as investors looked to a key monthly jobs report for clues about the strength of the U.S. economy.

Benchmark oil for November delivery was down 76 cents to $80.92 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost $1.56 to settle at $81.67 on Thursday.

Analysts estimate the U.S. economy likely added a net total of 75,000 private sector jobs in September, but that an equal number of temporary Census jobs were lost, leaving the unemployment rate slightly higher at 9.7% from 9.6% in August.

"There's much uncertainty in the market at the moment with everyone waiting to see what the jobs report says," Sander Capital Advisors said. "We could see a further pull back in the price of oil to close out the week."

In other Nymex trading in November contracts, heating oil rose 0.22 cent to $2.254 a gallon and gasoline was steady at $2.11 a gallon. Natural gas held at $3.614 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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    In London, Brent crude fell $1.18 to $82.25 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.