Oil prices dipped on reports of growing unemployment in the United States. As per the U.S. Labor Department, unemployment rate jumped from 4.7% in November to 5% in December -- its highest level in more than two years. This has raised concerns that an economic downturn in the world's largest economy could curtail demand for oil. Any slowdown in the U.S. economy would hurt exporters in Asia that rely heavily on American consumer demand for sales and growth.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery dipped to US$97.26 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore. In London, Brent crude futures fell 50 cents to US$96.29 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.