(Updates trading, changes comment, dateline; previous LONDON)
* European shares at 20-month high after upbeat data,
* Copper hits four-month low
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, May 4 Crude oil prices continued to
fall on Thursday, erasing the gains made since a production cut
deal last November, while the euro strengthened against the U.S.
dollar as a pro-European Union centrist looked set to win the
Corporate results boosted European stocks to fresh 20-month
highs, while losses in energy shares and gains in consumer
stocks kept Wall Street little changed.
Bets on the U.S. Federal Reserve raising rates next month
rose to a 74 percent chance from 71 percent Wednesday, with help
from data showing new applications for jobless benefits fell
last week and the number of Americans on unemployment rolls hit
a 17-year low.
In a statement after a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, the
Fed downplayed recent weak economic data and said consumer
spending remained solid, business investment had firmed and
inflation was close to its target.
"The economic data waxes and wanes and there's clearly a
seasonal adjustment in the first quarter from which we see a
bounce back," said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of
CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management in Washington,
agreeing with the Fed's diagnosis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 21.25 points,
or 0.1 percent, to 20,936.65, the S&P 500 gained 0.64
points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,388.77 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 2.94 points, or 0.05 percent, to 6,075.49.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.67 percent
to its highest since November 2015 and MSCI's gauge of stocks
across the globe gained 0.11 percent.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.63 percent. MSCI's broadest
index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
closed 0.36 percent lower, while Japan's Nikkei rose
Oil fell to its lowest since late November as concern over
rising supply and high inventories wiped out most of the gains
made since OPEC announced its first supply cut in eight years.
U.S. crude fell 4.41 percent to $45.71 per barrel
and Brent was at $48.66, down 4.19 percent on the day.
The euro hit its highest in about six months against the
U.S. dollar after centrist Emmanuel Macron consolidated his
position to win France's presidential race against anti-EU
candidate Marine Le Pen. Beyond Sunday's vote, traders looked at
the potential for the European Central Bank to signal further
reduction in bond-buying.
The dollar index fell 0.33 percent, with the euro
up 0.76 percent at $1.0965.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.03 percent versus the
greenback to 112.73 per dollar, while sterling was last
trading at $1.2913, up 0.39 percent on the day.
Copper prices slid to four-month lows, following
their biggest one-day drop in 20 months, on rising inventories
and worries over cooling demand. Copper lost 1.04
percent to $5,542.00 a tonne.
Spot gold dropped 0.8 percent to $1,227.80 an ounce.
U.S. gold futures fell 1.63 percent to $1,228.20 an
U.S. Treasury yields rose on the jobs data and bets on the
Fed's next move.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 16/32 in price
to yield 2.3649 percent, from 2.309 percent late on Wednesday.
(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru, Amanda
Cooper in London and Karen Brettell and Sam Forgione in New
York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)