Oil surge drives world stocks higher, ECB looms

World stock markets climbed to their highest in almost five months on Thursday after a surge in oil prices boosted risk appetite, while the euro steadied ahead of a European Central Bank meeting.

European stocks crept higher at the open, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 of leading European shares briefly touching its highest level since early January as expectations for dovish rhetoric from the ECB supported sentiment.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.8 percent, brushing its highest since early November.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 gained 2.6 percent, while Wall Street shares ended less than 2 percent short of a record-high close on Wednesday.

The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS rose to its highest level since early December.

Driving the positive sentiment in global stock markets was the rally in oil.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, extended Wednesday’s strong gains to hit a five-month peak just above $46 a barrel LCOc1 after the International Energy Agency said 2016 would see the biggest fall in non-OPEC production in a generation.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 were last up 14 cents at $44.32 a barrel. Both crude prices have now gained 70 percent in value since their lows reached between January and February.

“It looks like the trough in oil is now behind us,” said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa Capital Markets.

The upbeat tone towards oil resonated across world markets, with emerging market stocks rising to 5-1/2 month highs, while safe-haven German government bond yields DE10YT=TWEB rose.

Many other commodity prices were also firm, with copper CMCU3 rising to as high as $5,029.50 a tonne, its highest in a month. Silver XAG= hit an 11-month high of $17.5950 per ounce.

The Thomson Reuters Core Commodity Index .TRJCRB also rose above its March peak to its highest level since early December.

ECB LOOMS

While the ECB is widely expected to refrain from further action after delivering a comprehensive stimulus package in March, its meeting will be no less eagerly anticipated.

ECB President Mario Draghi is likely to drive home the case for ultra-loose monetary policy, hitting back after a barrage of criticism from German officials who dispute the bank’s recipe for tackling the euro zone’s economic malaise.

In London trade, the euro was flat at $1.1298 EUR=, well below Wednesday’s peak of $1.1388. Against the yen, it edged down about 0.2 percent to 123.84 EURJPY=.

“The FX market is likely to pay particular attention today to what Draghi has to say about further rate cuts,” said Lutz Karpowitz, currency strategist at Commerzbank.

“Should he be any more outspoken on the matter than last time round, euro/dollar is likely to ease further. I would certainly steer clear of long positions.”

Elsewhere, commodity-linked currencies held firm. The Australian dollar AUD=D4 was at $0.7823, having hit an 11-month high of a $0.7830 on Wednesday.

The Swedish crown hit its highest level against the euro EURSEK= since March 2015 after the Riksbank kept its key interest rate at an unchanged -0.5 percent, as widely expected, and extended its bond-buying program.

News from Reuters

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