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    07-Mar-2021

Oil at records, Wall Street ends higher after week of tumult

 

AFP

 

NEW YORK — Wall Street stocks finished strong on Friday after a roller coaster session, while oil prices closed at their highest level in nearly two years as the US economy appeared within reach of overcoming COVID-19.
 
Inflation fears had dogged equities throughout the week, but healthy employment data released before markets opened led to a banner session in New York on Friday.
 
The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1.9 per cent at 31,496.30, while the broad-based S&P 500 climbed 2 per cent to finish at 3,841.94.
 
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.6 per cent to end at 12,920.15.
 
The United States added a better-than-expected 379,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate dipped to 6.2 per cent, with much of the new employment seen in the leisure and hospitality industry, which has been the most vulnerable to the pandemic.
 
"It was good data but still far away from full employment," Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities said. 
 
However, markets are still leery over the possibility inflation will rise as the US economy recovers, which caused an uptick in bond prices this week.
 
The 10-year Treasury bond is yielding just under 1.6 per cent, but Cardillo said if it stabilises at this rate, "it is safe to say that the pull back could be over."
 
In oil markets, an announcement from oil-producing countries that they would increase output by less than expected helped prices reach highs that were unthinkable just months ago, when crude briefly slumped into negative territory as the pandemic pummeled global demand.
 
A barrel of North Sea Brent Crude for delivery in May rose 3.9 per cent in London to $69.36, its highest closing price since April 2019. 
 
In New York, the barrel price of West Texas Intermediate for April delivery climbed 3.5 per cent to $66.09, its highest closing level in 22 months.
 
The Thursday decision by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies to raise production only modestly was a show of "remarkable restraint", said Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets for Rystad Energy.
 
"That move in itself also helps prices approach $70 per barrel. The speed that prices rose since the doom days of negative levels has been unprecedented," he said.
 
 

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