By PABLO GORONDI
The price of crude oil continued to rise Friday, a day after posting its biggest jump this year, as traders awaited the release of a closely watched U.S. employment report.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for June delivery was up 61 cents to $94.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The price rose sharply on Thursday as the European Central Bank cut its key interest rate to a new low and U.S. unemployment benefit claims dropped. The Nymex contract rose $2.96, or 3.3 percent, to finish at $93.99 a barrel, the biggest one-day gain for crude since November.
"The recent rebound in crude oil prices is a result of more confidence in the global economy as ECB and Fed decisions to stimulate growth could bring a boost in oil demand for the second half of 2013," said analysts at Sucden Financial Research in London.
Later Friday, the U.S. Labor Department will release its monthly employment report for April, which could show whether weak hiring in March was a temporary lull or a more significant trend.
Oil prices have been weighed down in recent weeks by concern that growth â¿¿ and energy demand â¿¿ is waning, while supplies remain ample, particularly in the U.S.
Brent crude, which is used to set prices of oil from the North Sea used by many U.S. refiners, was up 65 cents to $103.50 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:
â¿¿ Wholesale gasoline rose 0.82 cent to $2.7888 a gallon.
â¿¿ Heating oil added 1.55 cents to $2.871 a gallon.
â¿¿ Natural gas fell 3.4 cents to $3.991 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.