KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The price of oil inched toward $98 a barrel Monday after stronger U.S. hiring suggested demand for crude could increase.
Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was up 6 cents at $97.71 a barrel at midafternoon Kuala Lumpur time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed up 27 cents at $97.65 on Friday.
U.S. data showed strong signs of economic recovery.
The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 7 percent in November after employers added 203,000 jobs last month, more than expected. Earlier data showed the U.S. economy grew at a 3.6 percent annualized rate in July through September, the fastest since early 2012.
Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 2 cents at $111.59 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.7 cent to $2.734 a gallon.
— Heating oil added 0.3 cent to $3.06 a gallon.
— Natural gas gained 6 cents to $4.174 per 1,000 cubic feet.