London: Oil fell yesterday after stronger than expected US employment data boosted the weak US dollar.
The US economy added more jobs than expected in September and there were big upward revisions in job numbers for July and August. The weak dollar, a big factor in driving up oil prices, jumped on the jobs data, which could reduce the need for further US interest rate cuts to bolster the US economy.
US crude at the New York Merchantile Exchange (Nymex) was 74 cents lower at $80.70 a barrel by 2.16pm GMT after rallying $1.50 on Thursday, its first rise in a week. Brent crude fell 57 cents to $78.40.
Oil hit a record of $83.90 a barrel last month, boosted by US dollar weakness, speculative inflows and concerns that oil's fundamental supply/demand balance is tightening ahead of peak winter demand.
The dollar has fallen to record lows against the euro based on expectations the US Federal Reserve would have to cut interest rates again to shield the fragile US economy from recession.
After the US jobs data, the dollar rose sharply against the euro. "The September job numbers paint a clearly different picture," said Gary Thayer, chief economist at AG Edwards. "Some traders may think that this will keep the Fed on the sidelines, but it doesn't take them out of the picture. Housing is still weak."
An economic slowdown in top oil consumer the US could hit demand, but the market is more concerned about supply. "If the US economy disappoints or goes into outright recession, that would reflect in a net reduction in expected demand," said Bob Greer, executive vice-president at fund manager Pimco.
"However, because of the limited infrastructure in so many commodity markets, prices are not going to be affected so much by changes in demand, but more so by changes in supply, lack of supply and supply disruptions."
Oil has traded around $80 for about three weeks. US government figures on Wednesday that showed distillate supplies, including heating oil, dropped by 1.2 million barrels last month, about nine per cent below last year's average.
Taken together, the data painted a picture of tighter heating fuel supplies ahead of winter, although forecasters said they expected another warmer-than-average winter this year.