Portugal Colonial - Oil higher, stocks wobble

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Oil higher, stocks wobble
Oil higher, stocks wobble

Oil higher, stocks wobble

Stocks struggled Monday as a pre-weekend rally on Wall Street fizzled while oil prices pushed higher ahead of a meeting of OPEC and its allies.

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Wall Street ended a volatile week last Friday with a late surge. While that helped Asian markets, the rally stumbled as trading reopened in New York, with traders looking ahead to a charged week of central bank policy meetings and US jobs data.

The Dow spent the morning flipping between gains and losses, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq continued Friday's rally.

In Europe, both Paris and Frankfurt ended higher but London dipped.

"There's no shortage of risk events for the markets this week with rate decisions from the Bank of England and the ECB (European Central Bank), the US jobs report and a slew of earnings," noted Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

- Rates in focus -

Recent weeks have seen upheaval across world markets as the Fed readies to withdraw the vast financial support put in place at the start of the pandemic, which has fuelled a near two-year equity rally.

"The markets have been roiled by concerns about stubborn inflation pressures and expectations that the Fed will have to be aggressive with its monetary policy tightening campaign," said analysts at Charles Schwab brokerage.

Observers debate the Fed's likely moves as US inflation sits at a four-decade high, with some saying it could hike up to seven times before 2023, with an initial 50 basis point move in March.

The Bank of England is widely expected to increase its main interest rate by a quarter-point Thursday to 0.5 percent.

That follows its decision in December to increase borrowing costs from a record-low 0.1 percent to 0.25 percent to combat decades-high inflation.

This week sees also an ECB policy update.

ECB chief Christine Lagarde has downplayed inflation concerns, arguing that the forces pushing up prices across the eurozone are expected to ease over 2022.

Official data Monday showed the eurozone economy grew 5.2 percent last year after a pandemic-induced recession. Meanwhile, although German inflation slowed in January, it still came in higher than expected and will likely put more pressure on the ECB to react.

- Oil up before OPEC -

Oil prices were higher as OPEC and its allies prepare to meet Wednesday to discuss a further increase in output.

Brent crude last week surpassed $90 per barrel, a level last seen in October 2014.

The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hit its highest level in more than seven years earlier this month, fuelled by easing concerns about the Omicron Covid variant and geopolitical tensions.

Analysts have said that if Russia sends troops into Ukraine, crude prices could top $100 for the first time since 2014.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson downplayed the importance of OPEC and its allies raising their production target once again.

"While on the face of it this comes across as a measure which should help keep a lid on prices, the inability of a number of oil producers to meet their existing targets renders it meaningless," he said.

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 34,691.97 points

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 4,171.36

London - FTSE 100: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 7,464.37 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 1.0 percent at 15,471.20 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 6,999.20 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 27,001.98 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.1 percent at 23,802.26 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1199 from $1.1158 Friday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3420 from $1.3389

Euro/pound: UP at 83.47 pence from 83.16 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 115.22 yen from 115.24 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.3 percent at $91.16 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.5 percent at $87.23 per barrel