Oil prices bounced between small gains and losses Friday after the latest report on hiring in the United States offered a mixed picture of the economy.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose seven cents to US$86.33 a barrel Friday morning in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, was unchanged at US$107.03 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

The U.S. Labour Department says 146,000 jobs were created in November, more than economists anticipated. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 per cent, but that was largely because more Americans stopped looking for work and weren't counted as unemployed. And job gains for September and October were revised lower.

Meanwhile, in another bad sign for energy demand in Europe, Germany's central bank lowered its expectation for economic growth next year.

In other energy futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, heating oil fell one cent to US$2.93 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), wholesale gasoline rose one cent to US$2.61 a gallon and natural gas rose one cent to $3.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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