Global stocks take a breather as oil price rally continues

LONDON — Global stock markets traded in fairly narrow ranges Thursday following a solid rebound based on waning fears about a trade war. Oil prices though pushed ahead to touch fresh multi-year highs on improving optimism about the global economy.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.1 percent at 7,327 while the CAC 40 in France rose 0.1 percent to 5,385. Germany's DAX was down 0.3 percent at 12,556. Wall Street was poised to open slightly lower, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.2 percent.

PAUSE AFTER RALLY: Stock markets around the world have recovered a lot of ground lately as investor concerns over a trade war between the U.S. and China have abated slightly amid signs that the two are working to avoid what could be a debilitating economic development for the world economy. A solid start to the U.S. quarterly corporate earnings results season has also helped to shore up sentiment. Bank of New York Mellon, Mattel and Philip Morris will be in the spotlight Thursday.

ANALYST TAKE: "Stocks have been gradually rising this month which has been aided by easing trade war tensions — albeit far from resolved — and the geopolitical environment, while remaining heated, becoming less of a concern," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. "Earnings season has also got off to a very good start with the banks reporting strong earnings growth and comfortably beating already inflated market expectations."

CRESTING CRUDE: One beneficiary has been the price of oil, which has risen to its highest level since late 2014. The latest report on U.S. inventories found that crude stockpiles fell sharply in a sign of stronger than expected demand. News reports citing industry sources saying Saudi Arabia would be happy to see prices hit $100 a barrel are also helping lift the rally and shares of energy companies. The benchmark New York rate was up 82 cents at $69.29 a barrel while Brent, the international standard, rose 97 cents to $74.45 a barrel.

THE QUOTE: "While the elimination of oversupply has been a critical factor pushing oil prices, I still believe there's a significant risk premium being priced in, specifically the fear of supply disruption from the Middle East and possible renewed sanctions on Russia and Iran," said Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM.

ASIAN SCORECARD: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.2 percent to 22,191.18 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent to 2,486.10. Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.4 percent to 30,708.44 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China gained 0.8 percent to 3,117.38.

CURRENCIES: The euro was flat at $1.2373 while the dollar rose 0.1 percent to 107.58 yen.

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