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Oil climbs to three-week high as dollar, yields dip

Published 11/21/2016, 08:39 AM
© Reuters. Traders work at their desks in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Nigel Stephenson

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices rose to three-week highs on Monday, supported by a weak dollar and helping to nudge a gauge of inflation expectations in the euro zone to its highest since January.

Oil and gas and other commodity-related shares rose, lifting European stock markets after slight falls in Asia. Wall Street looked set to open higher, according to index futures (ESc1) (1YMc1).

Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, rose as high as $47.94 a barrel (LCOc1), its highest since Nov. 1 and up some 2 percent on the day, on signs that OPEC was moving closer to a deal to cut output when it meets next week.

"While loose terms may be agreed, I remain skeptical that a full detailed agreement can be both achieved and carried out by OPEC, given the clear differences that are so evident between certain key members," OANDA markets strategist Craig Erlam said.

Oil's rise comes as markets have been bracing for higher inflation if U.S. President-elect Donald Trump implements some of the tax cuts and infrastructure spending plans he outlined in his campaign.

A year ago, Brent traded at just under $45 a barrel. It then slid rapidly to just under $27 a barrel in January, meaning that a price-boosting deal by the Organization of the Petroleum-Exporting Countries when it meets next week could lead to rapidly accelerating year-on-year inflation early in 2017.

In the euro zone, the five-year, five-year breakeven forward rate - the European Central Bank's favored gauge of market long-term inflation expectations - topped 1.60 percent on Monday, below the ECB's inflation target of close to but less than 2 percent but its highest since January.

The prospect of higher inflation, and growth, has helped drive global bond yields and the dollar higher since Trump's election victory earlier this month.

German benchmark 10-year government bond yields edged higher on Monday, though U.S. Treasury equivalents , and the dollar (DXY) weakened.

The dollar fell 0.3 percent against a basket of six peers (DXY) but still held close to its highest levels since early 2003. The Japanese yen rose 0.3 percent to as high as 110.43 per dollar , having earlier fallen to 111.19 yen, its weakest since early June.

The euro rose 0.5 percent to $1.0649, with analysts saying the move reflected the abundant political risks facing Europe over the coming year.

A surprisingly strong showing by conservative former premier Francois Fillon in French presidential primary at the weekend was expected to heighten uncertainty. Some suggested that his unpopularity among left-wing voters could increase far-right, anti-euro leader Marine Le Pen's chance of victory in an election to be held in April and May.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's announcement on Sunday that she would seek a fourth term in next September's election removed another source of political uncertainty, which has intensified since Britain's vote in June to leave the European Union and Trump's election on Nov. 8.

In Italy, which faces a referendum on which Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has staked his job, 10-year government bond yields rose fell 1.5 basis points to 2.01 percent, having earlier risen to above 2.05 percent.

"Indirectly, the French primary vote could reinforce concern about an anti-establishment backlash in Europe," said Martin Van Vliet, senior rates strategist at ING. "Even if the sell-off in core bonds is fading, we still see pressure on the periphery."

The pan-European STOXX 600 share index (STOXX) rose 0.1 percent, reversing earlier falls, with the oil and gas sub-index (SXEP) up 1.6 percent and basic resources, which includes miners (SXPP), adding 2 percent.

For Reuters new Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets

MSCI's main Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, stock index (MIAPJ0000PUS) fell 0.1 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX200 index (AXJO) retreated 0.2 percent.

Japanese shares closed up 0.8 percent (N225), lifted by yen weakness against the dollar before the currency turned.

Copper prices, which have risen on Trump's promise to spend heavily on infrastructure, were up 2.5 percent at $5,560 a tonne on the prospect of better demand in top consumer China and a smaller growth in supply.

© Reuters. Traders work at their desks in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

"All in all, the outlook for copper demand has improved, and that is justifying that prices are also coming up," said Quantitative Commodity Research consultant Peter Fertig.

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