Wall St. up as near-term rate-hike prospects fade; oil jumps

Thu May 21, 2015 5:06pm EDT
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By Michael Connor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity markets rose on Thursday, with Wall Street's S&P 500 index closing at a record high as investors bet that U.S. interest rates won't rise soon, while oil jumped more than 2 percent on the view that a global glut may be starting to ease.

Brent crude topped $66 a barrel.

The dollar slipped and U.S. Treasury yields declined. Trading was muted in many North American markets a day ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who investors watch for indications of how soon the Fed will raise U.S. interest rates from near zero.

Fed officials believe it would be premature to start rate hikes next month, even though most feel the U.S. economy is rebounding from a dismal start to the year, according to minutes from their April policy meeting.

Wall Street's S&P 500 .SPX gained 4.97 points, or 0.23 percent, to end at 2,130.82 points, barely beating its previous record close of 2,129.2 from Monday.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was essentially flat, ending up 0.34 points at 18,285.74. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC rose 19.05 points, or 0.38 percent, to 5,090.79, just short of its record close of 5,092.08 from April 24.

Equity investors mostly shrugged off weaker-than-expected U.S. manufacturing and other data, including a rise in weekly claims for state unemployment benefits reported by the U.S. Labor Department.

U.S. Treasuries yields declined on the disappointing data, which revived worries among bond investors about the economy and whether the Fed would raise interest rates later this year.   Continued...

A street sign for Wall Street hangs in front of the New York Stock Exchange May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson