Oil prices ease in Asian trade

Oil prices fell in Asian trade Friday as the market awaited the release of US payrolls data amid lingering concerns over a prolonged budget stalemate, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April eased 25 cents to $91.31 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for April delivery dipped 40 cents to $110.75.

"People are waiting for new economic data... in the United States," said Tony Nunan, risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo.

"Prices are likely to fall if the data is disappointing as the general market is weak," he told AFP.

US non-farm payrolls figures are due to be released later Friday, and strong numbers would signal further economic momentum after data on Thursday showed unemployment claims falling last week to 340,000.

On Wednesday payrolls firm ADP said the private sector piled on 198,000 jobs last month, better than the average of the past six months.

"Fewer firings and more hirings are bringing people back into the search for a job when they had previously been too discouraged to bother," DBS bank said in a market commentary.

US President Barack Obama ratcheted up his political charm offensive Thursday, welcoming Republican fiscal conservative Paul Ryan for lunch as he seeks a less painful way to cut spending after the $85 billion "sequester" kick in last Friday.

The cuts to defence and domestic spending will likely cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, which could hamper recovery in the world's biggest economy.