WASHINGTON (AP) — A weakening U.S. economy spilled into the job market in March as employers added just 126,000 jobs — the fewest since December 2013 — snapping a 12-month streak of gains above 200,000.
The unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent, the Labor Department said in its monthly report Friday.
Oil prices tumbled Thursday as Iran and six world powers announced the framework for a deal over its nuclear program that could lead to a substantial release of Iranian crude into the market. U.S. benchmark crude lost 95 cents to settle at $49.14 a barrel on the Nymex, while in London Brent slid 3.8 percent, losing $2.15 to finish the trading day at $54.95, Reuters reports.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit plunged in February as exports fell but imports dropped even more. The narrower gap could give a slight if temporary boost to U.S. economic growth, which has flagged in recent months.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that the deficit — the amount by which the value of U.S. imports exceeds the value of exports — plummeted 16.9 percent to $35.4 billion from $42.7 billion in January.
Oil dropped early Thursday ahead of the Easter holiday weekend, as talks on Iran’s nuclear program continued despite a failure to achieve a breakthrough. U.S. benchmark crude was 40 cents lower to $49.69 a barrel in electronic trading on the Nymex, while in London Brent lost 30 cents to $56.80, Reuters reports.
The price of oil rose sharply Wednesday on signs that U.S. production growth is slowing, a weaker dollar that makes oil a more attractive investment to overseas buyers, and anticipation that a delay in talks with Iran over its nuclear program could keep Iranian oil off the world market.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose $2.49 to close at $50.09 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.99 to close at $57.10 in London.
Oil was falling for a fourth consecutive trading day as the dollar climbed and fresh data reflected a continuing build in U.S. crude inventories, which were already at record levels.
A report from the American Petroleum Institute showed an increase of 5.2 million barrels in the week ending March 27, said Myrto Sokou, senior analyst at Sucden Financial in London, adding that the numbers raised fresh concerns about whether U.S. demand might be shrinking.
Oil prices were falling again early Tuesday as record inventories look set to keep increasing and the dollar gains against the euro and the yen.
“It seems that crude oil prices have been heading for their third consecutive quarterly loss as the strong US dollar and record high levels of crude oil inventories limit any upside potential, prompting investors to another round of heavy sell-off in the market,” said Myrto Sokou, senior analyst at Sucden Financial in London.
With the Keystone XL pipeline still delayed, Transcanada has filed with the State Department to get approval for the Upland Pipeline, which would bring Bakken crude north to Saskatchewan, The Wall Street Journal reports.
A unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit leaves in place Environmental Protection Agency regulations on heavy truck efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, The Hill reports.
Word that Russia, Norway and possibly Saudi Arabia are ramping up oil production pressured prices Friday. U.S. benchmark crude dropped 1 percent, or 59 cents, to $57.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while in London Brent gained 43 cents to $65.28 a barrel, a new five-month high, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin Power & Light has formally asked state regulators to approve a new gas-fired plant that will cost $750 million, alongside a solar facility intended to generate 2 megawatts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Two Democrats – Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania – have introduced comprehensive mine safety legislation intended to beef up regulatory enforcement and close loopholes in the 1952 Federal Coal Mine Safety Act, WVPN reports.