Crude Creeps Higher: Oil Alert

Oil prices were rising before the Labor Department releases the unemployment figures for August.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- With unemployment figures set to come out Friday morning, oil futures were inching up during the electronic trading session on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The front-month crude contract was trading at $68.45, after adding 49 cents. On Thursday, the contract dipped by 9 cents to settle at $67.96.

A good or bad jobs report could change the tenor of the day for oil, though. Labor Department officials will release statistics for August. Many are forecasting the unemployment rate will rise a tenth of a point from July's figure to 9.5%, with the group reporting 225,000 job cuts. In July, statistics showed the economy lost 247,000 jobs.

Turning to stocks, many of the oil majors finished slightly higher on Thursday.

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

gained 8 cents to $68.26.

Marathon Oil

(MRO) - Get Report

closed at $30.40 after putting on 11 cents, while

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Report

changed hands at $68.33 by the close, adding 29 cents.

American depositary shares for

BP

(BP) - Get Report

and

Royal Dutch Shell

(RDS.A)

also finished in positive territory, up 0.5% and 0.1% each. Still, both were giving up gains a bit in premarket action Friday.

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get Report

dipped into the red Thursday, losing 12 cents to close at $44.22.

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