Oil prices rise before US jobs data

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Oil prices advanced on Friday as traders awaited jobs data from the United States, the world's biggest consumer of crude.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January, climbed 39 cents to $100.59 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for January delivery added 36 cents to $109.35 per barrel.

Markets were awaiting the release later on Friday of US November non-farm payroll data for an indication of the state of the world's biggest economy.

While it is expected to show the unemployment rate stuck at nine percent, there is some confidence after private sector jobs increased 206,000 from the previous month.

"For today, all eyes remain on the release of the US non-farm payrolls data that could provide a better insight of the US economic conditions, giving the market some clear direction," said Myrto Sokou, analyst at Sucden Financial Research in London.

Oil prices have risen over the week as the euro rallied against the dollar on joint action from central banks to help tackle the eurozone debt crisis.

A weaker greenback makes dollar-denominated crude cheaper for buyers holding stronger currencies, lifting demand and the price of oil.

Crude futures have also risen this week on international tensions over major oil exporter Iran.

The European Union, piling pressure on Iran after an attack on the British embassy, beefed up sanctions Thursday over Tehran's nuclear programme and threatened to hit its oil and finances next.

Oil from Iran in 2010 amounted to 5.8 percent of total EU imports, making Tehran the bloc's fifth-largest supplier after Russia, Norway, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

Much of the international community fears Iran's nuclear programme masks a drive for a weapons capability, though Tehran insists it serves peaceful civilian energy and medical purposes only.

© 2011 AFP

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