Crude prices edged higher to end the week, despite huge supplies and tens of thousands of lost jobs in the U.S. last month, AP reported.
Energy prices have rallied for weeks on some signs that manufacturing activity had picked in the U.S. and China, but again it was the falling dollar that inflated the price of crude Friday.
Crude and gasoline futures are up 15 percent since mid-December and prices at the pump this week are higher than at any point last year.
Prices are rising steadily even as the job picture grows worse.
The U.S. government reported Friday that 85,000 jobs were lost in December. On the same day, UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, said it would cut 1,800 management and administrative jobs.
The Labor Department report sent the dollar sharply lower early in the day and because crude is bought and sold in the U.S. currency, anyone holding euros could buy more oil.
Benchmark crude rose 9 cents to settle at $82.75 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Energy experts question how long prices can be sustained at the current level with the job picture being what it is.
"The consumer-led recovery is still in jeopardy," said energy industry analyst Stephen Schork.
Nearly 15.3 million people in the U.S. are unemployed, with an increase of 3.9 million people during 2009. That has slashed demand for gasoline and in many households where one or two parents have lost jobs, people are putting on another sweater rather than turning up the heat.
This week, when the government report fuel supply levels, heating oil had barely budged despite painfully cold weather from the Great Plains to the Northeast
Stockpiles of crude oil, gasoline and distillate fuel oil are well above normal, according to the report Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Oil markets throughout 2009 appeared to respond more to the movement of the dollar rather than actual demand for energy and did so again on Friday.
"This has been a self perpetuating deal, where strong buying has forced new highs and new highs have forced new buying," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates. "It's a vicious cycle."
Gasoline prices have risen steadily for weeks and that isn't making it any easier for consumers.
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline this week raced by the top price for all of last year and continued to rise overnight.
A gallon rose almost 2 cents to $2.725 to end the work week, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Prices are about 9 cents higher than a month ago and about 96 cents higher than a year ago.
In other Nymex trading in February contracts, heating oil rose 1.67 cents to settle at $2.2003 a gallon and gasoline rose 2 cents to settle at $2.1553 a gallon. Natural gas futures fell 5.7 cents to settle at $5.749 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude for February delivery fell 13 cents to settle at $81.37 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.