• 21:01
  • Thursday ,03 February 2011

Egypt overshadows economic recovery, oil rises

By-Al Yoon/Reuters

Home News


Thursday ,03 February 2011

Egypt overshadows economic recovery, oil rises

 World shares struggled to eke out more gains on Wednesday as wariness over escalating violence in Egypt and rising oil prices muted optimism over the latest signs of a sustained global economic recovery.

The price of copper, a key industrial metal, hit a record high on expectations of strong global demand.
Brent crude earlier topped more than $102 a barrel, a 28-month high, on worries that the flare-ups in Egypt could spread across the Middle East and North Africa, source of more than a third of the world's oil.
Prices of US crude futures had slipped after data showed that US stockpiles rose for a third straight week, but finished moderately higher. US light sweet crude oil rose 9 cents to settle at $90.86 per barrel.
"While the oil market wants to move lower on the bearish (inventory) data, it can't break away from worries about Egypt," said Phil Flynn, analyst at PFGBest Research in Chicago.
"The latest pictures of Egyptian demonstrations becoming violent have added to those worries," Flynn said.
The dollar, a traditional safe-haven currency, rose against the euro on the unrest in Egypt and on signs of dissent over a euro zone rescue plan.
MSCI's all-country world stock index, one of the broadest gauges of global equities, rose 0.22 percent after earlier hitting levels last seen in August 2008.
"Just like everyone else, we are monitoring Egypt very, very closely in the event we need to make adjustments," said Dan Fuss, vice chairman of Loomis Sayles, which has more than $150 billion in assets under management.
Emerging market shares led gains, rising 0.4 percent. They are down more than 1 percent in 2011, however, reflecting a shift by investors to developed markets such as the United States, where key indexes on Tuesday hit their highest closing levels in about 2-1/2 years.
Equities were bolstered by a report by ADP Employer Services on Wednesday that US private employers added 187,000 jobs in January, more than forecast. On Tuesday, strong factory data worldwide prodded US benchmark stock indexes higher.
But the civil unrest in Egypt remained a top concern as violent clashes erupted between opponents and supporters of President Hosni Mubarak in central Cairo.
US indexes ended little changed after a day of see-saw trade. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.81 points, or 0.02 percent, to 12,041.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 3.56 points to 1,304.03 and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.03 points to 2,750.16.
Appliance maker Whirlpool Corp fell 2.1 percent to $82.77 after its profit missed expectations.
Time Warner Inc rose 8.6 percent to $35.10 after its profit topped estimates on a 21 percent jump in advertising sales at its cable networks. Mattel Inc rose almost 1 percent to $24.37 after its profit beat expectations.
"The world economy appears to be improving a little faster than expected, valuations are OK and companies are publishing quite good results," Geert Ruysschaert, strategist at BNP Paribas Fortis Private Banking, said. "Investors can take advantage of that."
Commodity prices continued to rise on improving global growth prospects. Copper hit a record high at $9,988.25 a ton before settling back at $9,945.25.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 rose 0.2 percent, marking a 3.5 percent year-to-date gain. Earlier, Japan's benchmark Nikkei ended up 1.8 percent for its biggest daily gain since Dec. 2.
Despite lingering Middle East tension, bids for some safe-haven assets, including US Treasury bonds, eased. Benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields rose 0.04 percentage point to 3.48 percent as their prices fell. Treasuries were pressured as rising energy and food costs fed worries over inflation, which erodes the value of bonds over time.
Gold fell $3.60, or 0.3 percent, to $1,336.60 an ounce, well below its December record high near $1,430.
"The sell-off seemed to illustrate that people had lost faith in gold and could see much better places to invest," said Peter Hillyard, an analyst at ANZ Bank in London. "I don't think people want to sell it," he added. "They are fearful about what is going to happen in the Middle East, and what really is going on in the markets."
In currencies, the euro retreated from a 2-1/2-month high against the dollar as signs of dissension over a euro zone rescue plan caused some investors to take profits after a recent rise.
The euro climbed as high as $1.3861 overnight, its best level since early November, but fell after a German government official said Berlin opposed allowing a euro zone rescue fund to buy troubled countries' debt.
A downgrade of Irish government debt also prompted some euro selling, but analysts said the currency remains in an uptrend and may yet test $1.40 in the weeks ahead.
"There's a bit of a flare-up in Egypt, and some of our barometers suggest a hint of renewed risk aversion, but I don't think it will dissuade investment in high-yield assets," said BNY Mellon strategist Michael Woolfolk. "And given how far the euro has come, you would expect to see some profit-taking."
Dollar gains against major currencies were slight, even after the US private employment data. The US Dollar Index rose 0.05 percent to 77.104.
The euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.3805, and the dollar rose 0.27 percent to 81.53 yen. –Additional reporting by Simon Jessop and Neal Armstrong in London, and Steven C. Johnson, Ryan Vlastelica and Jennifer Ablan in New York