Global stocks were mixed Thursday as a surge in energy and commodity prices boosted benchmarks in Europe and Asia but reignited concerns that robust global economic growth could quicken the pace of inflation and lift government bond yields.
Oil prices surged to the highest levels in more than two years overnight, thanks in part to a Reuters report that suggested Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest producer, would be content with crude prices that approach $100 a barrel and won't push for changes in the current OPEC agreement that is taking 1.8 million barrels from the market each day until the end of the year.
Brent crude contracts for June delivery, the global benchmark, were seen 0.5% higher at $73.85 per barrel, the highest since late 2014, while WTI contracts for the same month were marked 0.45% higher at $68.85 per barrel.
At this pace, rising #oil prices will surely show up in the headline #inflation number, and with the #euro no longer strengthening (at least for now), what does this mean for the #ECB's #QE program. pic.twitter.com/6Mtk8H3h3r— jeroen blokland (@jsblokland) April 19, 2018
Aluminium prices, meanwhile, leapt to the highest in seven years, changing hands at $2,665 per ton on the London Metals Exchange, as U.S. sanctions on Russia hit the US Rusal, the world's number-two producer, while Nickel extended it two-day rally to 10% to trade at $15,825 per ton.
European stocks opened marginally higher, rising 0.03% to 3821.97 points by mid-day in Frankfurt while Britain's energy and commodity-intensive FTSE 100 rose 0.36%, a relatively strong opening gain given that many heavyweight stocks in the benchmark were trading without the right to their regular dividend.
Early indications from U.S equity futures suggest a pullback on Wall Street at the start of today's session, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 4 points to the downside and those linked to the broader S&P 500 seen 2.25 points lower from last night's close.
Amazon Inc. (AMZN) shares were a notable pre-market mover, rising sharply higher Thursday after the online retailing giant said membership in its lucrative Prime offering topped 100 million as it continues to expand overseas and challenge traditional retails in the world's biggest markets.
Action Alerts PLUS holding Amazon traded 1.7% higher in pre-market dealing in New York Thursday, indicating an opening bell price of $1,553.78 each, the highest in nearly a month, in a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain past 33% and value the group at $710 billion.
Overnight in Asia, higher commodity prices boosted regional benchmarks, taking the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index 0.91% higher into the close of trading while Japan's Nikkei 225 closed 0.15% to the good at 22,360.65 points after a two-day summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump ended with no new strictures on trade between the two giant economies.
The commodity price surge, however, also boosted U.S. Treasury yields, taking 2-year notes to a fresh 2008 high of 2.43% and benchmark 10s trading at 2.88%. The dollar index, however, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, slipped 0.1% to 89.55.