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Oil futures edge off multi-month lows ahead of U.S. data



© Reuters. Oil futures edge higher before U.S. nonfarm payrolls – edged higher on Friday, easing a more than four-month low as investors awaited the highly-anticipated U.S. nonfarm payrolls report due later in the day.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for September delivery hit $44.75 during European early afternoon hours, up 9 cents, or 0.21%. A day earlier, Nymex oil prices lost 49 cents, or 1.09%, to end at $44.66.

Markets were jittery ahead of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report due later Friday, which could reinforce expectations for higher interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

Crude oil had come under pressure after data on Thursday showed that in the U.S. in the week ending August 1 rose by 3,000 to 270,000 from the previous week’s total of 267,000.

Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to rise by 6,000 to 273,000 last week.

The greenback has been boosted recently by expectations that the improving U.S. economy will prompt the Federal Reserve to raise short term interest rates as early as September.

Dollar-denominated oil futures contracts tend to fall when the dollar rises, as this makes oil more expensive for buyers in other currencies.

The , which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was at 97.89, not far from Friday's four-month high of 98.33.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, for September delivery slipped by 7 cents, or 0.16%, to trade at $49.45 a barrel. On Thursday, London-traded Brent futures lost 7 cents, or 0.14%, to settle at $49.52.

The spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $4.70 a barrel.

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