A strong sign that the U.S. economy remains in a precarious state, along with a weaker Euro, bogged down crude oil prices Friday.
The July futures price settled at $71.51, a $3.10 drop from Thursday, after the government announced that a whopping 95% of the jobs created in May were in the public sector. In fact, all but 20,000 of the 431,000-job increase in nonfarm payroll employment stems from the hiring of temporary U.S. Census workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, private sector employers were skittish in their May hiring and added only 41,000 jobs for the month. During the previous month, more than five times that many new hires joined private-sector payrolls.
On the opposite side of the Atlantic, the Euro fell to its lowest level against the Dollar in more than four years after Hungarian officials suggested their country may face massive debt problems akin to Greece's. Crude oil reached a high of $75.42 and bottomed out at $71.62 Friday. Crude is down $1.07 for the four-day trading week.
The discouraging U.S. jobs news and the damper it may place on Americans' summer driving plans also helped to push the price of a gallon of gasoline lower Friday. Gasoline settled at $2.00, down eight cents from Thursday, and traded between $2.00 and $2.09. Nevertheless, gasoline is up 2 cents for the week.
The July natural gas futures price was a bright spot Friday, rising 11 cents to settle at $4.80 per thousand cubic feet. Gas, which is up 55 cents for the week, traded from $4.61 to $4.86 Friday.
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