Oil prices rally on upbeat jobs data

New York: Oil prices pared part of early gains to end mildly higher on Friday, as the country's nonfarm payrolls data came out much stronger than expected. The West Texas Intermediate for August delivery increased 27 cents to settle at $45.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for September delivery climbed 36 cents to close at $46.76 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange, Xinhua news agency reported. Meanwhile, oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Friday that the number of rigs operating in US fields rose by 10 to 351 in the week ending July 8, notching a fifth straight weekly gain.  Traders were encouraged by the newly-released positive nonfarm payrolls report. US total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 287,000 in June, well above market consensus of 175,000, the Labor Department reported on Friday. Investors believed that the June nonfarm report mollified concerns of an economic slowdown in the US, as May's payroll rose only by 38,000 and notched the fewest monthly job gain in almost six years.