Iraq unrest drives up oil, dollar
NEW YORK: Escalating violence in Iraq drove crude oil and the dollar higher on Friday while damping the appetite for global equity markets, even as bullish news from the US tech sector lifted stocks on Wall Street.
Brent crude edged above $113 a barrel, up more than $4 this week, on concerns that an insurgency in Iraq could trigger civil war and eventually crimp oil exports.
“The market in general is trying to assess the risks on Iraq. There was a big market reaction and then the IEA (International Energy Agency) said it did not see a risk to supplies so the volatility is reflecting this,” said Olivier Jakob at Petromatrix consultancy.
The dollar strengthened against a basket of major currencies for the first time in three sessions as Iraqi violence triggered a safety bid for the US currency. Higher US bond yields also underpinned the move. European stocks closed slightly lower but shares on Wall Street rose after Intel Corp. raised its full-year revenue outlook, citing stronger-than-expected demand for personal computers used by businesses.
Intel added the most gains to the three major indices on Wall Street, and its shares were up 6.9 percent at $29.89. MSCI’s all-country world equity index slipped 0.02 percent, and was down 0.7 percent for the week.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed down 0.2 percent at 1,389.83, moving further away from this week’s 6-1/2-year high. The Dow Jones industrial average added 11.85 points, or 0.07 percent, at 16,746.04.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 2.69 points, or 0.14 percent, at 1,932.80. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 6.74 points, or 0.16 percent, at 4,304.37.
“The market isn’t cheap, but it isn’t crazy expensive and the sectors that are looking better are cyclical in nature,” said Michael Mullaney, chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust Co. in Boston. “Tech has been doing well from a price return standpoint, and that should continue.”
Brent was up 24 cents at $113.26 per barrel, off a peak of $114.69, its highest since September.
US crude was up 40 cents at $106.93, off a high of $107.68, also a nine-month peak.
The US dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.08 percent at 80.657. The euro slid 0.15 percent against the dollar at $1.3530, while the dollar rose 0.3 percent against the yen at 102.01.
Despite the decline in riskier assets, benchmark US bond prices fell, pushing yields slightly higher. Sterling surged on Friday after the Bank of England hinted at an interest rate rise this year. Benchmark US 10-year notes fell 6/32 in price to yield 2.606 percent.