S&P 500, U.S. crude prices end at 2016 highs

Fri Mar 11, 2016 5:53pm EST
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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended at its highest level of the year on Friday as oil prices climbed further and investors reassessed this week's stimulus measures by the European Central Bank.

Oil gains followed an International Energy Agency report that said the oil market may have found a bottom. The IEA report also said production declines were picking up in the United States and other non-OPEC producers, and an increase in supply from Iran was less dramatic than expected.

Partly offsetting the bullish comments, Goldman Sachs lowered its crude oil price forecasts for this year and next year.

Brent LCOc1 rose 34 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $40.39 a barrel, and was up 4 percent for the week. U.S. crude CLc1 gained 1.7 percent to $38.50, and set a new high for the year. Both U.S. and Brent crude prices are up more than 40 percent from this year's lows.

In the stock market, all three major U.S. stock indexes registered a fourth straight week of gains, while MSCI's all-country world stock index .MIWD00000PUS gained 1.8 percent, also putting in a fourth week of increases.

A rise in energy shares helped stocks, while investors also shook off skepticism over the ECB announcements from Thursday.

The ECB had announced a bold new stimulus plan but signaled it was unlikely to cut its negative interest rates further.

After mulling the deal overnight, investors "reassessed and realized it was good news," said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management Corp in Chicago.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson