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Oil fell below $100 a barrel for the first time since February as U.S. employers added fewer workers than forecast, stoking concern that demand won’t be enough to cap inventories at their highest level in 21 years.
Futures declined as much as 4.6 percent after Labor Department figures showed payrolls climbed 115,000, the smallest gain in six months. The median estimate of economists called for a 160,000 advance. Elections in France, Greece, Italy and Germany this weekend may determine how the region’s governments respond to Europe’s financial crisis.
The jobless rate fell to a three-year low of 8.1 percent, and earnings stagnated. The participation rate, which indicates the share of working-age people in the labor force, fell to 63.6 percent, the lowest level since December 1981, from 63.8 percent.
Crude oil for June delivery dropped to $97.51, the lowest level since Feb. 10. Prices are down 6.3 percent this week, heading for the biggest weekly decline since September.
Brent oil for June settlement fell $3.85, or 3.3 percent, to $112.23 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract reached $111.76, the lowest level since Feb. 2. The European benchmark contract’s premium to New York futures widened to $13.90 from $13.54 yesterday.
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