On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude futures for March settlement traded at USD96.08 a barrel during early U.S. trade falling 0.28%.
Weakness in the U.S. dollar helped depress crude oil prices. The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, gave back 0.06% to 79.03.
Dollar weakness generally lifts commodity prices, as it increases their appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar priced commodities less expensive for holders of other currencies.
Oil traded near a six week low after booking a five day losing streak yesterday, the longest since August.
The heavily anticipated non farm payroll report hits the wire before the U.S. stock market opens on Friday. It is forecasted that employment increased by 140,000 after climbing 200,000 last month.
Traders watch this report very closely to gauge the strength of the recovery in the world’s largest oil consuming nation.
In the U.S., data indicated that the number of filings for unemployment assistance last week dropped more than expected to 367,000 beating estimates for a decline of 373,000.
Economists believe jobless claims below 400,000 indicate an improving labor market. The number has remained below 400,000 in 12 of the last 14 weeks, helping fuel the bullish stock advance in 2012.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke stated at his testimony today that the economy is showing signs of improvement. In addition to requesting lawmakers to reduce the long term U.S. budget deficit.
Additional U.S. data indicated that the number of filings for unemployment assistance last week dropped more than expected to 367,000 beating estimates for a decline of 373,000.
Economists believe jobless claims below 400,000 indicate an improving labor market. The number has remained below 400,000 in 12 of the last 14 weeks.
In earlier news, slowing U.S. oil demand added to the sessions bearishness. Official data on Wednesday indicated that U.S. supplies climbed by a more than expected 4.2 million barrels last week.
Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline consumption decreased 7.97 million barrels a day, the lowest since September, 2001, while stockpiles increased 3.02 million barrels last week per official Energy Department data.
Oil traders continue to watch Iranian and Sudanese tensions very closely due to supply disruption concerns.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for March delivery advanced 0.42% to trade at USD112.55 a barrel, up USD16.40 on its U.S. Counterpart.
Improved labor market and tensions with Iran may set a platform for crude oil to rise again.