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US oil stages furious rally after jobs data, ends shy of $100

Crude spiked higher on Friday, boosted by tighter North Sea supplies and rising heating oil and gasoline prices, which were supported by continued cold and a decline in the U.S. jobless rate.

Persistently cold weather across the United States continued to fuel demand for heating oil while a declining U.S. jobless rate supported gasoline futures prices, analysts said. U.S. heating oil futures were trading 1.4 percent higher at $3.0362 per gallon. U.S. gasoline futures were up 1.5 percent at $2.7237.

The U.S. unemployment rate hit a new five-year low of 6.6 percent in January, down from 6.7 percent in December, the Labor Department said, despite a lower-than-expected gain in hiring. U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose only 113,000, low enough to allay worries among investors that the U.S. central bank would accelerate its ending of economic stimulus measures that have helped support oil and commodity prices.

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Brent crude futures were up about $2 to trade over $109, after rising 0.9 percent in the previous session - their biggest daily gain since Jan. 22. U.S. crude rose by $2.04 to settle at $99.88.

Analysts said Brent was also supported by evidence that North Sea crude supply could be lower than expected in the next few months. Loading of the four main crude oil streams - Brent, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk (BFOE) - will average 890,000 barrels per day (bpd) in March, down from an expected 1.03 million bpd in February, according to loading programs.

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