Oil prices fell this evening after news that the US economy lost more jobs than expected last month, dampening hopes of a swift recovery in the world's number one energy consuming nation.

US crude dropped 44 cents to $82.22 a barrel, having topped $83 on Wednesday for the first time in 14 months, while Brent lost 46 cents to $81.05.

The US economy lost 85,000 jobs in December while the unemployment rate held at 10%, the US government said in a report highlighting a slow and painful recovery.

In earlier deals today, oil traded in negative territory as the dollar strengthened and on signs of slackening US energy demand. A stronger dollar often tends to dampen demand for dollar-priced crude oil and other commodities as they become more expensive to holders of weaker currencies.

US energy inventory data showing easing demand in the world's biggest economy also helped push down prices, analysts said.