U.S. unemployment surged to a 25-year high of 9.4 percent in May, although the pace of job losses slowed.

Friday's report from the Labor Department says 345,000 jobs were lost last month - the lowest number since last September.

The new data helped send key world stock indexes higher, and oil prices climbed above $70 a barrel for the first time since September on hopes the lower-than-expected figures could indicate the worst of the recession may have passed.

However, the high unemployment rate suggests employers are still reluctant to hire new workers until there are more signs the recession is coming to an end.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.