Oil rises on Syria attack, dollar shrugs off weak jobs report

Fri Apr 7, 2017 4:50pm EDT
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By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil traded to an almost one-month high on Friday after a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base while the dollar rose as investors dismissed a weak U.S. jobs report as not enough to derail a strong economy or the outlook for rising interest rates.

The toughest U.S. action in Syria's six-year-old civil war raised geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East and initially hit assets considered higher risk such as equities.

Gold, a safe-haven asset, climbed to a five-month high before easing and yields on risk-averse benchmark U.S. Treasuries briefly slid to four-month lows. Stocks pared losses to close higher in Europe and just below break-even on Wall Street.

For the week, crude closed up about 3 percent. U.S. crude settled 54 cents higher at $52.24 a barrel and Brent rose 35 cents to settle at $55.24.

A jobs report seen as out of step with the labor market kept alive expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates twice more in 2017 as the unemployment rate last month declined to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent in February.

"As long as we see the unemployment rate decline, we will see more rate hikes," said Cathy Barrera, chief economic adviser at ZipRecuiter in New York.

But William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, said the U.S. central bank might avoid raising rates at the same time it begins to shrink its $4.5 trillion bond portfolio.

Dudley's remarks helped push equities lower.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid