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While you were sleeping: Oil lifts sentiment

Wednesday 8th June 2016

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Equities on both sides of the Atlantic moved higher with oil prices and bets that the US Federal Reserve appears in no rush to raise interest rates.

Oil rose to the highest level since October 2015, with Brent crude futures rising as high US$51.30 a barrel earlier in the day, and US crude oil futures touching US$50.37.

"Demand for oil seems to be stronger than we anticipated and the price continues to rise, that is something that is positive," Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst, Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh, told Reuters.

Wall Street gained. In 2.39 pm New York trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.40 percent. In 2.25pm New York trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.42 percent. In 2.40pm trading, the Nasdaq Composite Index eked out a 0.08 percent increase.

Gains in shares of Chevron and those of Verizon, last trading 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent stronger respectively, led the Dow higher. Shares of Chevron also rose, last up 1.6 percent, with the price of oil. 

Also underpinning sentiment were bets that the Fed won’t raise rates as early as recently suggested. On Monday Fed Chair Janet Yellen called for gradual interest rate increases but stopped short of offering a timeframe.

“Yellen has basically just given us a bit more time on easy monetary policy,” Jasper Lawler, a London-based market analyst at CMC Markets, told Bloomberg. “I don’t think anyone thinks from just one payrolls report that the US economy is about to fall off a cliff, but that weak print does just mean the Fed is on delay.”

The US dollar weakened, as a result.

The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to start its next two-day policy meeting on June 14. After Friday’s far-weaker-than-expected US jobs data, few expect policy makers to hike rates this month but some analysts believe the door to a July rate increase remains wide open.

Goldman Sachs Group says there’s a 40 percent chance the Fed will raise rates in July -- almost double what the bond market projects, according to Bloomberg.

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International sank, trading 14.2 percent weaker as of 2.36pm in New York, after the drugmaker posted disappointing quarterly results and downgraded its full-year forecast.

Other shares in the industry also bucked the overall market trend. Shares of Biogen also dropped, trading 12.3 percent lower as of 2.49pm in New York, after its multiple sclerosis drug failed in a Phase 2 study.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a gain of 1.1 percent from the previous close. The UK’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.2 percent, France’s CAC 40 index added 1.2 percent, while Germany’s DAX index rallied 1.7 percent.

Germany’s 10-year bond yield fell to as low as 0.045 percent, the lowest on record, as investors flocked to the perceived safety of Europe’s benchmark sovereign debt. 

“There is a long, long list of reasons why bund yields are this low,” Peter Chatwell, head of rates strategy at Mizuho International in London, told Bloomberg. “And uncertainty over the UK referendum makes it very difficult to contemplate holding a short position at the current time,” he said, referring to bets the price will fall.

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