Updated: Fri, 07 Feb 2014 11:40:23 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

Oil prices fall before US jobs data

Oil prices slipped on Friday as investors awaited the release of US jobs data, with some support coming from higher demand for heating fuel in the United States, analysts said.


New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in March, shed 39 cents to $97.45 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for March dipped seven cents to $107.12 a barrel.

WTI at one point on Thursday hit a peak of $98.83, its highest level this year, on the buoyant mood ahead of Friday's jobs figures.

Kenny Kan, an analyst for CMC Markets, said investors were betting on the US non-farm payrolls report to signal "an improvement of the economic outlook".

Markets were given a lift already by data on Thursday showing new claims for US unemployment insurance benefits had fallen last week.

Market watchers expect Friday's data to show a rebound from December's surprisingly poor jobs growth, predicting that 175,000 net new posts were generated in January, with the unemployment rate holding at 6.7 percent.

Crude prices have meanwhile been bolstered in recent weeks by strong demand for heating oil in the United States as the country is battered by unusually cold weather, analysts said.

US stockpiles of distillates, which include diesel and heating oil, declined for the fourth straight week in the week to January 31, data showed Wednesday.

Distillates fell 2.4 million barrels, more than the 2.0 million barrels estimated.

Treacherous snow and freezing rain in northeastern US has disrupted thousands of flights and caused traffic chaos for millions this week.

More than 600,000 people were without power Wednesday as high winds and ice knocked down trees and electrical lines.

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