LONDON (AP) - Oil prices fell below $101 a barrel on Friday after U.S. figures showed hiring slowed sharply in April, boding ill for consumption of fuel and energy.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down $1.96 to $10.58 a barrel by early afternoon European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.68 to settle at $102.54 in New York on Thursday.
Brent crude for June delivery was down $1.37 at $114.71 per barrel in London.
The U.S. economy added just 115,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said Friday. That's below March's upwardly revised 154,000 jobs and fewer than the 165,000 analysts had been expecting on average. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, but only because more people gave up looking for work.
The health of the U.S. labor market is key to energy markets because the U.S. has the world's largest economy. Weak hiring suggests demand for fuels will not pick up as much as expected.
In other energy trading, heating oil was down 2.2 cents at $3.07 per gallon and gasoline futures fell 2.4 cent to $3.03 per gallon. Natural gas was up 1.2 cents at $2.35 per 1,000 cubic feet.