U.S. benchmark oil drops 56 cents to close at $92.70

The price of oil dipped below $93 a barrel Friday after a weak U.S. jobs report cast doubt on the strength of the U.S. economy.

U.S. benchmark oil fell 56 cents to close at $92.70 in New York. Brent Crude, which sets the price of oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, fell $2.19 to close at $104.15. It was the lowest close for Brent since last July.

It was the third straight day of declines for oil. U.S. benchmark oil has fallen 5 percent since closing Tuesday at $97.19.

Oil fell earlier in the week after the Energy Department reported that storage levels were at their highest levels since 1990 even though refiners had begun to ramp up gas production to get ready for the summer.

U.S. trade deficit narrows to $43 billion in February

The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in February as exports climbed close to an all-time high and the volume of imported crude oil fell to the lowest level in 17 years.

The gap between exports and imports shrank to $43 billion in February, down 3.4 percent from January’s revised $44.5 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the smallest trade imbalance since December when the gap had declined to $38.1 billion, the lowest point in nearly three years.

Exports rose 0.8 percent to $186 billion, close to the record high set in December. Stronger exports of U.S. energy products and autos offset declines in sales of airplanes and farm equipment.

Maker of electric car idles majority at headquarters

Troubled electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. has laid off about three-fourths of the workers at its California headquarters as it struggles with financial and production problems.

The Anaheim, Calif.-based company confirmed the layoffs in a statement on Friday, saying it is pursuing “strategic alternatives” to get through financial challenges, but it reached a point where the layoffs are necessary.

Fisker, which makes the $100,000 Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, hasn’t produced any cars since last year.

U.S. paid jobless benefits to those making a million

The U.S. government paid almost $80 million in unemployment benefits during the worst of the economic downturn to households that made more than $1 million, including a record $29.9 million in 2010, tax records show.

Almost 3,200 households — about 20 percent of them from New York — that reported adjusted gross income of more than $1 million received jobless-insurance payments averaging $12,600 in 2010, the latest year for which figures are available, according to IRS data compiled by Bloomberg.

Boeing calls flight of 787 final testing of battery fix

Boeing said its flight of a 787 on Friday in Everett, Wash., should wrap up the testing for its fix of the battery problems that have kept the plane grounded.

Boeing called the flight “the final certification test for the new battery system.” It will analyze the data and submit materials to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Samsung phones drive earnings to near record

Samsung Electronics posted near-record earnings in the first quarter. Profit is set to surge when the Galaxy S4 smartphone goes on sale this month.

The mobile-phone business again was the company’s biggest earnings driver, with sales of cheaper handsets in emerging markets supplementing growth by high-end Galaxy. Operating profit rose to $7.7 billion in the three months ended March 31, Asia’s biggest technology company said.

– From news service reports