Brent rises above $104, U.S. unemployment at 4-year low

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Brent crude rose above $104 a barrel on Friday after better-than-expected job growth in top oil consumer the United States raised the prospect of stronger demand.

U.S. employment rose more than expected in April, pushing the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 percent, which could help ease concerns of a sharp slowdown in the economy.

Oil a day earlier was boosted by the European Central Bank after it cut interest rates to record lows, spurring investor appetite for riskier assets.

Analysts said the positive employment outlook in the United States could prove more bullish for the dollar than for oil.

The dollar rose over 1 percent against the yen and U.S. stock index futures pointed to a sharp rise on Wall Street.

"A stronger dollar could put a bit of pressure on oil," said Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Zug, Switzerland.

"There's unlikely to be a sustained rally. Especially when the focus returns to the high level of oil stocks."

Brent crude was up $1.40 at $104.25 a barrel by 1305 GMT, while U.S. crude was up $1.27 at $95.26.

Despite the bullish U.S. jobs data, weak manufacturing activity in the United States and China is still clouding the outlook for oil demand from the top two consumers.

"I think the PMIs which we've seen this week still remind us that in China we need to see further evidence of stabilisation. And in the United States we want to see signs that are a little less stop-start," said Ben Taylor of Sydney-based CMC Markets. (Additional reporting by Luke Pachymuthu in Singapore; editing by Jason Neely)



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