December 4, 2011
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Oil prices lower ahead of jobs report

Oil prices ended slightly lower Thursday after a four-day surge, as traders await a key U.S. jobs report.

Benchmark crude fell 16 cents to finish at $100.20 per barrel in New York. Brent crude lost $1.27 to end the day at $108.71 in London.

Prices had risen every trading day since Thanksgiving. They were boosted by tension over Iran's nuclear program, strong retail sales in the U.S. and an effort by the Federal Reserve and central banks of other nations to increase the flow of dollars to foreign banks.

Now traders are awaiting the November unemployment report, which will be released by the Labor Department on Friday. High unemployment has been a drag on the economy and has cut into energy demand. Wholesale gasoline demand in November was at the lowest level in more than seven years.

"Everything's on hold right now," PFGBest analyst and oil trader Phil Flynn said. "We're a little worried about what those jobs numbers will be tomorrow."

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