Oil Surges As Stocks Trade Mixed

London, March 24 (AFP/APP): Oil prices surged Wednesday following the blockage of the Suez canal while stock markets traded mixed.

A grounded ship that has temporarily blocked the key transit route for oil, along with the latest supply data from the United States, helped the price of the main US oil contract spike by five percent. The US benchmark contract, West Texas Intermediate, then quickly eased back to a gain of 4.6 percent, while the European benchmark, North Sea Brent oil, was 4.6 percent higher.

Bitcoin rose to $56,530 after Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted that the carmaker now accepts the virtual currency as payment in the United States. Continued concerns that Europe’s worsening coronavirus crisis could derail economic recovery were balanced by survey data showing the eurozone economy had returned to growth in March for the first time in six months. In the background, investor fears are growing over another deadly wave of Covid-19 and concerns over a stimulus-fuelled global inflation spike have not abated. Frankfurt stocks lost 0.5 percent and the Paris stock index was flat in afternoon trading.

“Once again, concerns about another wave of Covid-19 cases in Europe and worries that economies will reopen later than initially predicted are weighing on stocks,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

Europe’s two biggest economies, Germany and France, have been forced along with other countries to impose new restrictions to battle the disease, as they also struggle to get vaccination programmes rolling properly. Outside the eurozone, London’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.3 percent on Britain’s rapid vaccination drive and news of easing UK inflation.

In New York, the Dow Jones index climbed 0.9 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.4 percent. In Asia, Hong Kong was among the biggest losers, dropping by two percent on news that the government had suspended its Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine programme over concerns about packaging, dealing a blow to the city’s already slow inoculation programme. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has now fallen into a correction having lost more that 10 percent from its recent high. Tokyo also shed two percent, while Shanghai, Mumbai and Jakarta each lost more than one percent.

Key figures around 1550 GMT

  • London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 6,6716.13 points
  • Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.5 percent at 14,593.62
  • Paris – CAC 40: FLAT at 5,945.18
  • EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,831.02
  • New York – Dow: UP 0.9 percent at 32,712.82
  • Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.0 percent at 28,405.52 (close)
  • Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 2.0 percent at 27,918.14 (close)
  • Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.3 percent at 3,367.06 (close)
  • Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1830 from $1.1849 at 2200 GMT
  • Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3715 from $1.3752
  • Euro/pound: UP at 86.26 pence from 86.17 pence
  • Dollar/yen: UP at 108.89 yen from 108.59 yen
  • West Texas Intermediate: UP 4.6 percent at $60.42 per barrel
  • Brent North Sea crude: UP 4.6 percent at $63.60 per barrel

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