Oil off on supply fears; stocks slip before French election

Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:16pm EDT
 
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By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Friday as oversupply concerns resurfaced, while the euro and stocks slipped ahead of the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday.

U.S. crude futures fell below $50 a barrel for the first time in more than two weeks on renewed fears that increasing U.S. production will thwart OPEC's attempts to reduce the global oil glut.

Geopolitical worries remain an issue for investors also with all four leading candidates in the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday seen with a chance of making the run-off vote on May 7. Centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, maintained a narrow lead in opinion polls, though a terrorism incident in Paris on Thursday pushed national security to the top of the political agenda.

"After Brexit everyone has to be concerned," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey, speaking of the surprise vote last June that resulted in the UK move to leave the European Union.

"People are not going to trade if they are nervous nowadays - there is a little nervousness, a lot of uncertainty, so let’s wait and see."

The euro EUR= ended little changed Friday around $1.0720 but French blue-chip stocks .FCHI fell 0.4 percent. The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX slipped 0.65 percent to 378.12 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 0.18 percent to 446.54.

"So far markets have been pretty sanguine in the face of the (French) presidential election, which was flagged as one of the potential banana skins for markets in this year," said Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Laith Khalaf.

Investors were heartened by good euro zone economic news showing showing businesses activity increased at the fastest rate in six years as new orders stayed robust.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid