Oil prices bounced back in Asian trade today from the previous day's sharp losses as traders awaited a key labour market report in the United States, the world's biggest economy, analysts said.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in June, was up 13 cents to $102.67 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June gained 17 cents to $116.25 in morning trade.
WTI crude shed $2.68 today, while Brent tumbled $2.12 to a three-month low as investors reacted to data showing tepid growth in the important services sector of the US economy in April.
The Institute for Supply Management's services index fell to 53.5 in April, from 56.0, showing a sluggish expansion in the services sector.
The numbers put traders on the defensive before the release of the US jobs report later today, which is unlikely to spur optimism about the economic situation in the world's top oil-consuming nation, analysts said. Economists expect Friday's report -- which includes data on both the private and public sectors -- to show the economy created a meagre 162,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate was stuck at 8.2% per cent. "Slower-than-expected growth in the massive US service sector dragged on markets as traders awaited the April US payrolls data on Friday," Phillip Futures said in a market commentary. An indication by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) that it wanted to scale prices down to sustainable levels was also bearing down on the market. "We are not happy with prices at this time," said Abdullah El-Badri, Opec's secretary general, at an energy conference in Paris.