Brent Crude Tops $65 For First Time in Two Years

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Following three straight sessions of gains, Asian shares took a break as markets merged with the optimism of an upswing in global growth would endure this week’s probable hike in U.S. borrowing costs.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.3 percent, after its rebound of 2 percent. Exchanges were minimal across the region, as blue-chip Chinese shares fell 0.5 percent while Australian stocks gained 0.2 percent. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.3 percent, following the index reaching its highest close in 25 years on Monday.

Wall Street had been pushed higher by technology and energy stocks, with Apple Inc being the driving force. The Dow gained 0.23 percent, while the S&P 500 increased by 0.32 percent and the Nasdaq 0.51 percent. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 showed humble gains of 0.04 percent.

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Economist David Hensley believes that the Fed will adjust its growth prediction while lowering its stance regarding the unemployment rate, theoretically adding increased risk to the “dot plot” predictions on interest rates.

“The dot plot previously called for three hikes in 2018; it is a close call whether this moves to four hikes,” he stated, adding, “For its part, the European Central Bank (ECB)is likely to emphasize its low-for-long stance and continue to distance itself from the Fed. The staff is likely to revise up its 2018 growth forecast, while we think the core inflation forecast will reveal an even slower recovery than before”.


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The discrepancy in Fed and ECB policy assumed to be bullish for the greenback, given it had broadened the dividend offered by U.S. two-year yields over German yields to 256 basis points from last year’s 188 basis points. This kind of spread has not been seen since 1999.

The euro is up 12 percent on the dollar and the dollar is down 8 percent on a basket of currencies. On Tuesday, the euro was firm at $1.1772, while the dollar was idling at 113.48 yen, not far from a one-month high of 113.69.

Oil prices climbed following the shutdown of the Forties North Sea pipeline which lessened the supply from a market that was previously tightening from the OPEC-led production cuts. Brent crude futures increased by 73 cents to $65.42 a barrel, after Monday’s gain of $1.35. U.S. crude futures increased by 36 cents bringing it to $58.35 a barrel.

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