Bloomberg News

Gasoline Rises as U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to Three-Year Low

February 03, 2012

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Gasoline rose to a one-week high as the U.S. added more workers than expected in January, sending the jobless rate down to the lowest level in almost three years and boosting speculation that fuel demand will improve.

Futures advanced 1.6 percent as the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, the lowest since February 2009. Labor Department figures showed the 243,000 increase in payrolls was the most since April and exceeded all forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.

“It is a positive sign for the economy,” said Jacob Correll, a commodity analyst at Summit Energy Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky. “There are a lot of indications that we might be recovering slightly more quickly than anticipated, that’s the reason we are seeing the gasoline bounce.”

Gasoline for March delivery rose 4.55 cents to $2.9144 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement in a week. Prices slipped 0.4 percent this week, the first weekly decline since the period ended Jan. 13.

The gains in employment were broad-based, including manufacturing, construction, temporary help agencies, accounting firms, restaurants and retailers. The index of industries showing job gains climbed to 64.1 in January, the highest level since April, from 62.4 a month earlier.

“We are looking at a better economic picture, more consumers and more deliveries,” Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in New York, said by phone. “With the U.S. economy growing at a decent pace here, it’s going to be hard to see anything slip back.”

More Overtime

Factory workers put in an average 41.9 hours of work each week, the most since January 1998, while overtime hours climbed to the highest level since March 2007. Manufacturing payrolls increased by 50,000 in January, the most in a year.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said during testimony to the House Budget Committee in Washington yesterday that the economy has shown signs of improvement while remaining vulnerable to shocks.

Bernanke repeated the Federal Open Market Committee’s Jan. 25 statement that the outlook for the economy would likely warrant near-zero interest rates through at least late 2014.

Heating oil rose to an 11-week high as European gasoil gained as much as 2.6 percent on ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Demand for home heating fuel may rise as temperatures drop in Germany, Europe’s biggest market for the fuel. Temperatures in Berlin will drop to minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 Fahrenheit) tomorrow, compared with a five-year average of minus 2, CustomWeather Inc. data show.

March-delivery heating oil rose 6.15 cents, or 2 percent, to $3.1144 a gallon on the Nymex. Prices gained for a second week, increasing 1.4 percent.

Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 1.2 cents to $3.467 yesterday, according to AAA data. Prices were 11 percent above a year earlier.

--With assistance from Bob Willis; Editors: David Marino, Margot Habiby

To contact the reporters on this story: Ksenia Galouchko in New York at kgalouchko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net


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