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NYMEX crude oil slightly weaker in Asian trade, China markets closed

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Shutterstock photo - - Crude oil prices eased in Asia early Monday on renewed concerns about the pace of U.S. economic recovery.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude oil for delivery in May traded at $101.00 a barrel, down 0.14%, after it ended on Friday's session up 0.85%, or 85 cents, to settle at $101.14 a barrel.

In China, markets are closed for a public holiday.

Last week's gains came after the latest U.S. employment report underlined the view that the economy was regaining strength after a setback caused by bad weather.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 192,000 jobs in March, below expectations for jobs growth of 200,000. February's figure was revised up to 197,000 from a previously reported 175,000.

The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7%, compared to expectations for a tick down to 6.6%.

The jobs report disappointed some market expectations for a more robust reading but indicated that the slowdown in economic activity seen at the start of the year was temporary.

Oil drew additional support from hopes that China will implement economic stimulus measures in the near-term to shore up slowing growth.

The U.S. and China are the world's two largest oil consuming nations

In the week ahead, market players will be focusing on Wednesday's minutes of the Fed's most recent policy setting meeting for further clues on the future course of monetary policy.

Oil traders are also looking ahead to monthly reports from the International Energy Agency and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries due later in the week, which will indicate expectations of supply and demand in the global market.

Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers increased their bullish bets in New York-traded oil futures in the week ending April 1.

Net longs totaled 300,921 contracts, up 2.49% from net longs of 293,403 in the preceding week.

Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for May delivery settled at $106.72 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, up 0.54%, or 57 cents.

Despite Friday's modest gains, the May Brent contract dropped 1.24%, or $1.35, on the week, amid expectations oil exports from Libya will begin picking up in the near future. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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