U.S., European stock markets climb ahead of Fed meeting; oil hits peak

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 12, 2017 22:21 hrs
The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major U.S. and European stock indexes advanced on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting of U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers, while oil prices reached $65 per barrel earlier in the day for the first time since mid-2015.

The earlier jump in oil prices boosted energy-heavy European stock indexes, with the pan-European STOXX rising 0.53 percent.

The Fed, whose two-day policy meeting ends Wednesday, is widely expected to raise benchmark interest rates.

"Investors are presented with an interesting (U.S.) economic outlook. They are looking at a positive set of economic data in an improving economy, with some hesitation with regards to Federal Reserve, given the change in leadership," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

The Dow opened higher, boosted by Boeing shares that touched a record peak after the company said it would raise its quarterly dividend and replace its existing share buyback program.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 103.23 points, or 0.42 percent, to 24,489.26, the S&P 500 gained 4.88 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,664.87 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.87 points, or 0.03 percent, to 6,876.95.

The MSCI index of world equities, which tracks stocks across 47 countries, slipped after three days of gains. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.40 percent.

OIL

Brent was last at $64.70, up 0.02 percent on the day after Britain's Forties pipeline was shut due to cracks as a cold snap swept the country. U.S. crude was down 0.28 percent at $57.83 per barrel.

The Forties pipeline is important for the global oil market because the crude it carries normally sets the price of dated Brent, a benchmark used to price physical crude around the world and which underpins Brent futures.

The shutdown comes as oil supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have helped chip away an excess of inventories built up following a global supply glut which began to emerge in late 2014.

Investors will keep focus on policy decisions worldwide, with a slate of central banks, including the Fed, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, set to meet during the week.

The U.S. dollar rose to its highest since Nov. 14 against a basket of currencies as the Fed begins its two-day meeting on Tuesday.

Investors will be watching for any signals that Fed officials are more optimistic on the prospect of faster growth as lawmakers appear close to passing a large overhaul of the tax code.

"People are looking for a little more confidence on the fact that tax legislation is set to pass," Sireen Harajli, a foreign exchange strategist at Mizuho in New York. "The general theme is that the dollar will continue to find support as we approach the end of the year."

The dollar index rose 0.32 percent, with the euro down 0.33 percent to $1.1729.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.13 percent versus the greenback at 113.73 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.332, down 0.13 percent on the day.

The New Zealand dollar set a one-month high as investors welcomed the appointment of national pension fund chief Adrian Orr to head the Reserve Bank from March.

U.S. Treasury yields rose on Tuesday as investors reduced their debt holdings in advance of a $12 billion auction of 30-year government bonds and after stronger-than-forecast data on producer prices in November.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 7/32 in price to yield 2.4101 percent, from 2.385 percent late on Monday.

The 30-year bond last fell 15/32 in price to yield 2.7948 percent, from 2.772 percent late on Monday.

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; additional reporting by Ritvik Carvalho and Alex Lawler in London, Karen Brettell and Richard Leong in New York, Rama Venkat Rama in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum)



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