Crude oil prices move lower after U.S. labor figures for April show little real momentum for employment since August. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, May 6 (UPI) -- Lower employment gains in the United States caught up with other market factors Friday to push the price of crude oil lower in early trading.
The U.S. Labor Department said Friday non-farm payrolls increased in April by only 160,000, leaving the rate unchanged at 5 percent. The data show jobs were gained in sectors like healthcare and financial services, but losses tied to the oil and gas sector continued.
"In April, the unemployment rate held at 5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 7.9 million," the department said in its statement. "Both measures have shown little movement since August."
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen warned earlier this year that financial conditions in the country were less supportive of growth and the labor market could turn lower as a result.
The monthly labor report for April came one day after the Labor Department reported that seasonally adjusted first-time claims for unemployment protection increased 17,000 for the week ending April 30. The four-week moving average, a less-volatile gauge for first-time filings, moved up 2,000.
Crude oil prices moved lower after the release of the latest U.S. Labor Department statistics. Brent crude oil lost 1 percent to start the day at $44.56 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was down 0.97 percent to $43.89 per barrel.
Crude oil prices have held in the $40 range as markets start to pull away from the supply-side pressures that emerged last year. In a hint of future potential demand, the Labor Department said that, for those that were employed, hourly earnings were up about 8 cents from March to $25.53.
Data this week from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, however, show supply-side pressures lingering with commercial crude oil and motor gasoline inventories increasing.
Oil rallied in April after 2016 saw prices move to their lowest point since 2003. Crude oil prices this week were pulled higher in response to market shortages triggered by wildfires raging across Canada's oil-rich province of Alberta. A militant group in Nigeria, meanwhile, said attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta region meant all of Chevron's facilities in the OPEC-member state were offline.