World shares rally on oil hopes

Specialist Glenn Carell, foreground, works with traders at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. File photo / AP
Specialist Glenn Carell, foreground, works with traders at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. File photo / AP

Equities on both sides of the Atlantic rallied overnight with the price of oil on hopes efforts to ease the global glut are progressing.

West Texas Intermediate crude rallied more than 5 percent, while Brent climbed more than 7 percent, a day after Saudi Arabia and Russia made significant headway towards an agreement on checking rising output.

Iran said it supported the plan but stopped short of saying whether it would curtail its own output.

"This is the first step and other steps should also be taken," Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said, according to the Shana news agency. "This cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC members to stabilise the market is good news. We support any effort to stabilise the market and prices."

Iran was the second-biggest producer in OPEC before stricter sanctions imposed in 2012 further curbed their ability to sell. Some doubt the country will be willing to restrain its production just as it has been able to ramp up again.

"If Iran's not part of the deal, it isn't worth much," Eugen Weinberg, head of commodity markets strategy at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, told Bloomberg. "After fighting to end sanctions for years and finally being free of them, why would Iran choose to put sanctions on themselves by freezing their production?"

In other energy news, shares of Kinder Morgan jumped, recently up 10.1 percent, after Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a stake in the pipeline operator.

Wall Street rose. In 12.48pm New York trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.5 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.7 percent. In 12.32pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 2.1 percent.

Advances in shares of Caterpillar and those of Boeing, last up 3.6 percent and 3.2 percent respectively, helped bolster the Dow.

The latest US data offered better-than-expected news on manufacturing. A report showed industrial production rose 0.9 percent in January, after a 0.7 percent drop in December. For some, it was a reminder that the US Federal Reserve might raise interest rates at its March meeting.

"This bounce is not terribly surprising because the economy is still growing and it fits with our call that eliminating the risk of a March rate hike was a mistake," Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities in New York, told Reuters.

A separate report showed wholesale prices unexpectedly rose last month, increasing 0.1 percent after a 0.2 percent decline in December.

Finally, the latest housing data disappointed. US housing starts posted a surprise drop last month, sliding 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.099 million units.

Shares of Fossil and those of Priceline jumped after each company posted earnings that surpassed expectations, pushing their shares up 26.2 percent and 11 percent respectively.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 2.6 percent increase from the previous close. Germany's DAX Index rose 2.7 percent, the UK's FTSE 100 Index rallied 2.9 percent, while France's CAC 40 Index jumped 3 percent.

- BusinessDesk

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