Oil hovers near $82 ahead of key US July employment report

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices hovered near $82 a barrel Friday in Asia ahead of a key U.S. employment report.

Benchmark crude for September delivery was up 8 cents to $82.09 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 46 cents to settle at $82.01 on Thursday.

Analysts expect the Labor Department to say private employers hired 90,000 workers in July, a slight increase from the 83,000 hired in June. But the unemployment rate will likely rise to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent because of government layoffs tied to cutting temporary census jobs.

Traders will be closely watching how stock and currency markets react to the jobs data as signs of overall investor sentiment. Asian stocks were mixed Friday and the euro was little changed at $1.3185.

"Oil prices are still in position to advance if we get strong moves higher in the euro or in equities as a result of a bullish employment report," Cameron Hanover said in a report.

In other Nymex trading in September contracts, heating oil rose 0.35 cent to $2.1903 a gallon, gasoline was steady at $2.1644 a gallon and natural gas rose 2.8 cents to 4.626 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude was down 6 cents to $81.55 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.