Oil prices continued to plunge on Friday, slipping to near $97 a barrel as investors worried that a weakening U.S. jobs market may undermine demand for crude in the world's largest economy.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for June delivery was down $2.60 at $97.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, it fell as low as $94.63.
On Thursday, the contract plunged $9.44 to settle at $99.80 — the biggest one-day percentage decline since April 2009 — because of signs U.S. economic growth is slowing. The Labor Department said that first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose to 474,000 last week, the highest level in eight months.