BANGKOK — The price of oil rose sharply today as an increase in U.S. hiring raised the prospect of higher energy demand.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 72 cents to $96.33 per barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract jumped $1.62 to finish at $95.61 on Friday after U.S. employers added a surprisingly solid 165,000 jobs in April. That drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 percent and suggested the U.S. economic recovery may be gathering pace.
Demand for oil also tends to increase when the economy picks up, as factories produce more, people drive more and businesses use more fuel to ship goods.
Rising oil prices are “just a matter of improving sentiment around global growth,” said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne.
Brent crude, which is used to set prices of oil from the North Sea used by many U.S. refiners, was up 58 cents to $104.77 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on Nymex:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.7 cent to $2.833 a gallon.
— Heating oil added 1.1 cents to $2.895 a gallon.
— Natural gas fell 3.1 cents to $4.01 per 1,000 cubic feet.