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European stocks rise with commodities as pound jumps

Mar 15 2017 11:49
Bloomberg: Benjamin Purvis and Samuel Potter

Sydney - Crude prices were once again a dominant story in markets, with oil’s rebound helping underpin European stocks as investors wait for Wednesday’s expected US interest rate increase. The British pound rebounded and metals climbed.

West Texas Intermediate oil jumped above $48 a barrel, reversing a plunge of as much as 2.7%, after an industry report pointed to falling crude stockpiles in the US A broader recovery of commodities spurred the Stoxx Europe 600 Index higher, with miners driving many of the gains. The pound recovered the previous day’s losses as the dollar slipped against most of its major peers.

The swings in oil added some drama to financial markets that have entered a two-day period brimming with central bank decisions, European political drama and a raft of economic data.

With the Federal Reserve seen as all but certain to raise rates, investors have been weighing how precarious energy prices will feed into the central bank’s path for future moves.

What investors will be watching:

The Fed’s decision will be announced at 20:00, followed by chair Janet Yellen’s news conference a half hour later. Investors are focused on any hints of a change in the number of increases the central bank foresees this year. Wednesday’s vote in the Netherlands will deliver a reading on the state of populism in Europe as races in France and Germany heat up.

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) is set to keep its rates and yield-curve policy unchanged in its policy decision on Thursday. The Bank of England, Swiss National Bank and Bank Indonesia are also expected to stand pat with policy decisions.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Japan, South Korea and China in his first visit to the region since taking office. US President Donald Trump’s first budget outline for fiscal 2018 is expected on Thursday. He’s said he’ll seek a $54bN boost in defense spending, paid for by an equal amount of cuts to non-defense agencies.

Here are the main market moves:

Asia

Stocks in Asia were mixed. Hong Kong shares pared declines as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang played down the risk of a trade conflict. Speaking at a press conference after the close of the annual National People’s Congress, Li said it’s important for both China and the US to keep talking to build trust.

Commodities

WTI gained 1.7% to $48.54 as of 11:39. US inventories fell by 531 000 barrels last week, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute was said to report. Gold climbed 0.4% to $1 203.35 an ounce after falling 0.4% on Tuesday. Iron ore jumped 3.4%, adding to a 4.3% advance in the previous session.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slipped by 0.3%, erasing its Tuesday advance. The British pound led gains in the Group-of-10 currencies, rising by as much as 0.9% before trading 0.4% higher. The euro rose by 0.3% to $1.0634, following its 0.5% drop a day earlier.

Stocks

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.3% as mining companies rallied 1.7% as a group. Futures on the S&P 500 added 0.3%. The benchmark index slipped 0.3% on Tuesday.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell two basis points to 2.5839, after slipping three basis points in Tuesday trading.

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european markets  |  equities  |  markets

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