4 May 2009

Oil, US stocks gain on improving sentiment

6:00 am on 4 May 2009

Oil prices rose on Friday on more upbeat US economic news while US stocks closed higher on increased optimism that the worst of the recession may be over.

The US dollar and the yen fell as the data lifted risk appetite and pared demand for both currencies as a refuge for safety against the global slowdown.

The data knocked down US government bond prices, sending yields to new 5-month highs.

US consumers felt much more upbeat about the economy last month, when the manufacturing sector also appeared to be crawling out of a deep recessionary hole, reports showed.

Sentiment also was supported by encouraging data from Asian export powerhouses China and South Korea. But trading volume was weak as markets around the world were closed for a holiday on 1 May. Japan and London markets will shut on Monday.

The broad-market Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 4.71 points, or 0.54%, to close at 877.52. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 44.29 points, or 0.54%, to 8,212.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1.90 points, or 0.11%, to 1,719.20.

A 4% gain in oil prices lifted Exxon Mobil and other energy stocks, which helped U.S. equity indexes climb slightly higher.

US crude futures jumped $US2.08 to settle at $US53.20 a barrel after hitting $US53.65, the highest since 3 April. Brent crude settled up $US2.05 at $US52.85.