NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices settled lower, as the market weighed supply concerns from the unrest in Kazakhstan and outages in Libya against a U.S. jobs report that missed expectations and its potential impact on Federal Reserve policy.
Brent crude settled down 24 cents, or 0.3%, to $81.75 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 56 cents, or 0.7%, at $78.90 a barrel.
Brent gained 5.2%, while WTI gained 5% in the first week of the year, with prices at their highest since late November, spurred on by the supply concerns.
“Employment data injected a question mark into where we are going from here and Omicron fears have crept back into the market,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management.
In Kazakhstan’s main city Almaty, security forces appeared to be in control of the streets and the president said constitutional order had mostly been restored.
The protests began in Kazakhstan’s oil-rich western regions after state price caps on butane and propane were removed on New Year’s Day.
Production at Kazakhstan’s top oilfield Tengiz was reduced on Thursday, its operator Chevron Corp said, as some contractors disrupted train lines in support of protests taking place across the central Asian country.
Production in Libya has dropped to 729,000 barrels per day from a high of 1.3 million bpd last year, partly due to pipeline maintenance work.
A barrel of oil for delivery in March was selling at a discount of as much as 70 cents to a barrel for delivery in February, the highest since November.
Both benchmarks were up $1 earlier in the session but oil, along with stock markets and the dollar, came under pressure after U.S. employment figures missed expectations.
U.S. employment in the country increased less than expected in December amid worker shortages, and job gains could remain moderate in the near term as spiralling COVID-19 infections disrupt economic activity.