By Scott DiSavino
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose after a strong U.S. jobs report bolstered hopes for growing energy demand, but crude prices remained on track for a small weekly decline, pressured by rising OPEC exports and strong output from the United States.
U.S. employers hired more workers than expected in July and raised their wages, the Labor Department reported.
Global benchmark Brent futures (LCOc1) were up 39 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $52.40 a barrel by 11:45 a.m. EDT (1545 GMT), while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (CLc1) was up 43 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $49.46.
"Oil prices were supported by good news this morning on the U.S. jobs front," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, noting gasoline and diesel demand also remained strong.
Crude futures had been lower in early trade before the jobs report spurred buying. For the week, the Brent and WTI front-months were both down. Analysts said prices were pressured by rising output, although strong demand limited the losses.
"Increasing OPEC production and increasing OPEC exports are the reason the market has been trading lower," PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga said.
Barclays bank said: "we expect a downward (price) correction during this quarter", but forecast Brent at an average of $54 per barrel during the fourth quarter.
While the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is leading cuts of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) along with some non-members such as Russia, its July exports hit a record high, according to a report by Thomson Reuters Oil Research.
July's exports at 26.11 million bpd represented a rise of 370,000 bpd, with most coming from Nigeria.
A Reuters survey also showed OPEC oil output at 2017 highs in July, led by Libyan gains. Libya and Nigeria were exempt from OPEC's output deal.
Output in Russia is also high. Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft (ROSN.MM), said its crude production grew by 11.1 percent year-on-year in the second quarter.
Officials from an OPEC and non-OPEC technical committee will meet in Abu Dhabi on Aug. 7-8 to discuss ways to boost compliance with their supply reduction agreement.
U.S. oil production, meanwhile, hit 9.43 million bpd, the highest since August 2015 and up 12 percent from its most recent low in June last year. (C-OUT-T-EIA)
Prices were around 18 percent above the lows hit in June, as strong summer demand for transport fuel has buoyed benchmark contracts.
U.S. gasoline demand rose to a record 9.842 million bpd last week, according to government data this week. [EIA/S]
(Additional reporting by Libby George in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by David Evans and David Gregorio)