LONDON - World oil prices nosedived on Friday, hitting three-month lows as a disappointing US non-farm payrolls report sparked fresh concern over energy demand in the world’s biggest crude consuming nation.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June tumbled as low as $111.76 per barrel in afternoon trade, hitting the lowest point since February 2.

And New York’s main contract, light sweet crude or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), sank to $97.83 a barrel, striking a point last seen on February 10.

“Crude oil prices have dropped sharply today as fears of a global economic slowdown increased,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Disappointing US job creation numbers also sent Wall Street stocks falling in early trade Friday, confirming that the US economy has hit a weak patch in the past month.

The net number of jobs created in April in the world’s largest economy, at 115,000, was well below the already modest expectations of forecasters, and was underpinned by a fall in the labor market participation rate — all a signal that households are still not doing well.

“The sharp falls in stock markets on Friday in the wake of the reported 115,000-increase in US non-farm payrolls in April suggests fears are growing that the recovery is fading fast, just like it did at this time last year,” said Capital Economics analyst Paul Ashworth.

The numbers were offset somewhat by an improvement in the overall US unemployment rate, which fell a tick to 8.1 percent, the best since January 2009.

In later afternoon deals on Friday, Brent oil stood at $112.27, down $3.81 from Thursday’s closing level, while WTI traded at $98.25, down a hefty $4.29.

World oil markets witnessed rollercoaster trade this week as investors tracked the global economic outlook.

Crude futures had ticked lower Monday as investors fretted over Spain’s double-dip recession and deepening fears that the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy might be the next to need a massive bailout.

The market then surged in New York on Tuesday after stronger-than-expected industrial data in the US and China, which are the world’s top energy consumers.

However, prices pulled back by the middle of the week after official data showed a bigger-than-expected rise in US crude oil stockpiles and a slowdown in American hiring, sparking concerns about the economy.

Oil prices slumped further on Thursday after fresh data showed a slowdown in the all important services sector of the US economy during April.

An indication by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that it wanted to scale prices down to sustainable levels was also bearing down on the market.

“We are not happy with prices at this time,” said Abdullah El-Badri, OPEC’s secretary general, at an energy conference in Paris on Thursday.

“There is speculation on the market. We have plenty of oil on the market and we are working to bring the prices down,” he added ahead of the cartel’s next scheduled production meeting in Vienna next month.

OPEC’s largest producer Saudi Arabia has previously pledged to ensure sufficient supplies to cover the shortfall caused by Western sanctions on Iranian crude, as well as disruptions caused by Libya’s civil war in 2011.