Oil prices fall awaiting US employment report
Oil prices fell on Friday when traders locked in profits ahead of the release of US data expected to show rising unemployment in the world's largest energy consuming nation, analysts said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, dropped 24 cents to 81.77 dollars a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for September delivery shed 59 cents to 81.02 dollars in midday London trade.
Traders were consolidating their positions before the release of a key US non-farm payrolls report, 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 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 percent, raising more doubts about the fragile economic recovery.
The pessimistic outlook for the non-farm payrolls comes on the heels of a US Labor Department report showing initial jobless benefit claims climbed 4.1 percent to 479,000 in the week to July 31.
The numbers confounded most analysts' expectations of a fall to 455,000.
© 2010 AFP