Oil rises to near $99 on weaker US dollar

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices rose to near $100 a barrel Monday in Asia, bouncing back from last week’s plunge, as a weaker U.S. dollar made commodities less expensive for investors with other currencies.

Benchmark crude for June delivery was up $2.36 to $99.54 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.62 to settle at $97.18 on Friday.

In London, Brent crude for June delivery was up $2.52 to $111.65 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Oil prices fell 15 percent last week as the dollar strengthened and traders worried that slowing U.S. economic growth didn’t justify a 35 percent increase from February to near $115 on May 2.

The euro rose to $1.4434 on Monday from $1.4312 on Friday while the dollar was little changed at 80.65 yen.

Some analysts are taking heart from a larger-than-expected increase in U.S. jobs last month. Non-farm payrolls rose by 244,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.0 percent from 8.8 percent in March.

“The fundamental backdrop in the market remains entirely unaltered, with global oil demand still showing continued strength,” Barclays Capital said in a report. “The general (oil price) trend from here should be higher, rather than lower.”

Other analysts expect oil to drop as higher U.S. gasoline prices — up 37 percent from a year ago — undermine crude demand. U.S. gross domestic product growth slowed to 1.8 percent in the first quarter.

“We expect oil to fall further as the global economy slows, the dollar continues to rebound, and the risk premium due to unrest in the Middle East eventually fades,” Capital Economics said in a report.

In other Nymex trading in June contracts, heating oil rose 6.0 cents to $2.91 a gallon and gasoline added 7.0 cents to $3.16 a gallon. Natural gas futures were up 3.7 cents at $4.27 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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