Global stocks barely extend rally on emerging markets strength; oil gains wane

Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:28pm EST
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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of stocks around the globe edged higher on Thursday, to extend its best run of the year, as signs of a stabilization in oil prices lifted emerging markets while earnings in Europe and the United States limited gains.

Brent crude LCOc1 settled down 0.6 percent to $34.28 while U.S. crude settled up 0.36 percent at $30.77 as the commodity pared earlier gains after data showed a build in U.S. crude oil inventories.

Brent had earlier climbed above $35 a barrel and has gained 1.5 percent so far this week after Iran welcomed plans by Russia and Saudi Arabia to freeze output.

U.S. oil CLc1 has gained 4.5 percent so far this week.

The dollar .DXY gained slightly against a basket of currencies even after comments on Wednesday from one of the Federal Reserve's traditional "hawks," James Bullard, that it would be "unwise" now for the central bank to keep hiking rates given low inflation expectations and market volatility.

The uptick in commodities and stall in dollar strength helped boost emerging market stocks with the MSCI Emerging market index .MSCIEF rising 1.2 percent, after touching its highest level in six weeks.

"Oil prices rising, it helps emerging markets, the notion that the Fed has no rate hike in March, it helps emerging markets," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

"Right now, over $30 (oil) is helpful for the tone in the market."   Continued...

Visitors looks at an electronic board showing the Japan's Nikkei average (top R) at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in Tokyo, Japan, February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato