* Equities up, dollar down versus currencies basket
* Mixed employment picture turns traders cautious
NEW YORK, Sept 4 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures ended slightly higher on Friday, in a cautious response to economic data which showed that while unemployment soared to a 26-year high in August, there were fewer jobs lost than expected in the month.
"Today's oil price response to the long awaited employment data was muted by the fact that the jobless report provided a mixed bag of information that failed to provide much insight into future economic or oil demand trends," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, in Galena, Illinois.
"However, a significant stock market advance combined with a weakening dollar managed to bring some buying interest back into the front of the crude curve," he added.
U.S. employers cut 216,000 jobs in August, which was fewer than expected, but the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high of 9.7 percent, the government said on Friday. [ID:nN04159609]
In late trading, the dollar was lower against a basket of currencies. Earlier, major currencies see-sawed due to the mixed payrolls and unemployment report, with light trading ahead of the three-day Labor Day holiday adding to volatility.
U.S. equities rose as investors focused on the bright side of the mixed report. [.N]
Oil traders, meanwhile, were gearing up for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' meeting on Sept. 9 in Vienna.
High inventories and the risk of a price slide will trouble OPEC ministers, but oil at close to $70 a barrel is expected to convince the group to hold output steady. [ID:nL4653661]
NYMEX floor trading will be closed Monday to mark Labor Day.
* On the New York Mercantile Exchange, October crudesettled up 6 cents, or 0.09 percent, at $68.02 a barrel, trading from $67.12 to $68.78.
* From a week ago, October crude fell $4.72, or 6.49 pct.
* In London, October Brent crudeended down 30 cents, or 0.45 percent, at $66.82 a barrel, trading from $65.96 to $67.67.
* NYMEX October RBOBended down 1.65 cents, or 0.92 percent, at $1.7763 a gallon, trading from $1.7447 to $1.8036.
* NYMEX October heating oilfinished 1.45 cents lower, or 0.84 percent, at $1.7205 a gallon, trading from $1.7018 to $1.7450.
* The October/October RBOB crack spread <0#RB-CL=R> ended at $6.58, dropping from $7.34 on Thursday. The October/October heating oil crack spread <0#CL-HO=R> ended at $4.24, down from $4.91 on Thursday.
* The spread between the current front month and the five-year forward crude contractwas at $13.34, narrowing from $13.72 on Thursday. The October 2014 contract settled on Friday at $81.36, down 32 cents, or 0.39 percent.
NYMEX crude 10-day/20-day moving average: $70.56/$70.43
NYMEX crude: $66.65/$71.00
NYMEX heating oil: $1.7050-$1.7885
NYMEX RBOB: $1.7595/$1.8430
For a full report on technicals, click on [ID:nL4459637]
* The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the remnants of Tropical Depression Erika, located south of Puerto Rico, was unlikely to develop, while a tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean had a medium chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. [ID:nN04181547]
* Hovensa LLC said an export halt ended at its St. Croix refinery after the U.S. Coast Guard reopened all U.S. Virgin Islands shut by Tropical Storm Erika. [ID:nN04160095]
* BP Plcis shutting an ultracracker unit at its Texas City, Texas, refinery for maintenance. [ID:nN04159305]
* Saudi Arabia plans to keep crude oil supplies steady in October to major firms with global refining systems, an industry source said. [ID:nL4497330]
* An index of future U.S. economic growth rose in the latest week, while its yearly growth rate surged to a 38-year high that suggests the recovery is on track, according to the Economic Cycle Research Institute. [ID:nNYS005385] (Reporting by Gene Ramos and Robert Gibbons; Editing by David Gregorio)
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