NEW YORK — The price of oil closed above $96 Friday, after the government said the economy added 175,000 jobs last month, a good sign for fuel demand.
Benchmark oil for July delivery gained $1.27, or 1.3 percent, to finish at $96.03 a barrel. Oil ended the week with a gain of 4.4 percent.
The oil market's initial reaction to the report from the Labor Department was negative. Oil fell as low as $93.72 a barrel. But the stock market gave the jobs numbers a thumbs-up, rising about 1 percent in early trading, and oil took off from there. At one point oil it reached $96.39.
The job growth in May was at a steady pace that showed strength in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts. But the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April. That's because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign, but only about three-quarters found jobs.
Analysts don't expect that the jobs growth is strong enough to convince the Federal Reserve to pull back on the economic stimulus currently in place. Those measures have been intended to ease long-term borrowing costs, and have had the effect of supporting the price of oil.
At the pump, the average price for a gallon of gas remained at $3.63. That's 2 cents higher than a week ago, and 7 cents higher than last year at this time.
Meanwhile, Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, rose 95 cents to finish at $104.56 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.