Jobs report leads to drop: Oil prices continued to plunge, slipping to just over $97 a barrel as investors worried that a weakening U.S. jobs market may undermine demand for crude in the world’s largest economy. Benchmark crude for June delivery was down $2.62 at $97.18 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. A stronger dollar, which makes oil more expensive for investors with other currencies, also helped push crude prices down. Some analysts expect oil to resume its rise as political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa could spread and threaten to disrupt crude supplies in the oil-rich region.
Just second increase in spending since recession: Consumers used their credit cards more in March, marking only the second increase in the more than two years since the height of the financial crisis. The Federal Reserve says consumers increased their total borrowing by $6 billion in March, the sixth consecutive monthly gain. Consumers borrowed more to finance car loans for the eighth straight month. And a category of borrowing that includes credit card use rose for only the second time since August 2008. More frequent credit card purchases could be a sign that consumers are feeling more confident about the economy. The 3% overall increase pushed consumer borrowing to a seasonally adjusted annual level of $2.43 trillion, still 1.3% higher than a nearly four-year low of $2.39 trillion hit in September.