Oil prices mixed ahead of US non-farm payrolls report

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 06 2010 12:22 PM | Updated as of Aug 06 2010 08:22 PM

SINGAPORE - Oil prices were mixed in tepid Asian trade Friday as traders locked in profits ahead of the release of US data expected to show rising unemployment in the world's largest economy, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, gained seven cents to $82.08 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for September delivery shed nine cents to $81.52.

Traders were consolidating their positions before the release of a key US non-farm payrolls report to be released later Friday, said Ong Yi Ling, an investment analyst with Phillip Capital in Singapore.

"I think for the earlier part of the day, people will lock in profits" before an expected crude price dip when the report, which analysts forecast will show already high unemployment numbers rising, is released, she said.

Most economists believe July saw non-farm payrolls fall by 87,000 and the unemployment rate edge up to 9.6%, raising more doubts about the fragile economic recovery.

The pessimistic outlook for the non-farm payrolls report comes on the heels of a US Labor Department report showing initial jobless benefit claims climbed 4.1% to 479,000 in the week to July 31.

The numbers confounded most analysts' expectations of a fall to 455,000.