NEW YORK — Oil was little changed Monday as the market searched for direction after last week's ups and downs.

Around midday, benchmark crude for September delivery was down 12 cents to $106.82 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

A week ago, oil jumped nearly $5 on Wednesday and Thursday as the global economic picture seemed to brighten, even as central bankers in the U.S. and Europe indicated they'd maintain programs that helped to keep interest rates low.

That changed Friday when the latest figures on employment in the U.S. showed a slowdown in the pace of hiring. Oil dropped 95 cents, though it still ended the week with a gain of more than $2 a barrel.

U.S. drivers saw a slight improvement at the gas pump over the weekend. The average price for a gallon of gasoline fell to $3.61 from $3.63 on Friday.

Brent crude, traded on the ICE Futures exchange in London, fell 24 cents to $108.71 per barrel.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, natural gas fell 3 cents to $3.32 per 1,000 cubic feet (28.32 cubic meters).