Oil tumbles, stocks muted
An absence of major news has led to a lacklustre trading session. The move in BP sums up the London session as shares in the oil titan hit a two-year high because the company confirmed that yearly profit hit $12.8 billion, its highest mark in eights years. The jump in oil and gas prices helped the energy group, but the underlying oil market turned sharply lower as the US government will recommence talks with Iran. There are hopes the discussions between the two countries could led to a deal in relation to Iran’s nuclear programme. Should that be the case, we could see oil sanctions on Iran being lifted, and therefore the country would be free to ramp up output and sell to more countries. WTI is down over 2.5% and that has dragged BP shares into the red. Earlier this week, oil hit a new seven-year high due to the escalation of tensions with regards to the Russia-Ukraine situation, so the prospect of the US-Iran talks going well has acted as a good excuse to lock-in some profits. The declines seen in the oil and gas sector is hurting the FTSE 100. Germany’s DAX and Italy’s FTSE MIB were in the red a short while ago but are now back in positive territory. Over in the US, sentiment is going back and forth as the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 started off the session slightly in the red but are now showing modest gains. Lately, the US indices have been trading in a directionless pattern as they have retreated from the peaks posted last week, but at the same time they are well above the lows of late January.
The US dollar is up again as the well-received US non-farm payrolls report last Friday is still helping the greenback. EUR/USD is down as dealers are starting to think the European Central Bank might have given off an overly hawkish message last week. Yesterday, the ECB President, Christine Lagarde, said it is likely that current high prices will subside, and that there is no need major need for ECB tightening. The euro is falling versus the pound too, as the single currency is losing its shine. Gold and silver are once again driving higher in the face of a firmer US dollar, it is not very often the metals rise in step with the greenback, especially when equities are muted.