Oil slides on supply fears; euro and stocks slip before French election

NEW YORK Oil prices fell on Friday as oversupply concerns resurfaced, while the euro and stocks slipped ahead of the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday.

Crude oil prices slid more than 2.0 percent on Friday, on track for the biggest weekly drop in a month, on renewed concerns that increasing U.S. production and high inventories will thwart OPEC’s attempts to reduce the global crude glut.

U.S. crude futures fell below $50 a barrel for the first time in two weeks, with volumes higher than the daily average.

U.S. crude CLcv1 fell 2.21 percent to $49.59 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 was last at $51.93.

With two days to go before the French election, centrist presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron, maintained a narrow lead in opinion polls, though a terrorism incident in Paris on Thursday pushed national security to the top of the political agenda. nL8N1HT0KY]

“After Brexit everyone has to be concerned,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey, speaking of the surprise vote in last June that resulted in the UK move to leave the European Union.

“People are not going to trade if they are nervous nowadays – there is a little nervousness, a lot of uncertainty, so let’s wait and see.”

The euro was down 0.2 percent against the dollar at $1.0693 midafternoon in New York on Friday ahead of the French election.

French blue-chip stocks CAC.FCHI fell 0.4 percent, while the pan-European STOXX index added 0.1 percent.

“So far markets have been pretty sanguine in the face of the (French) presidential election, which was flagged as one of the potential banana skins for markets in this year,” Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst, Laith Khalaf, said.

However, the euro zone economy bounded into the second quarter with strong growth, according to a survey showing businesses increased activity at the fastest rate for six years as new orders stayed robust.

The IHS Markit’s Flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, seen as a good guide to economic growth, climbed to 56.7 from March’s 56.4, its highest since April 2011.

MAJOR STOCK MARKETS STEADY

U.S. stocks also edged lower on Friday as geopolitical concerns such the French election offset positive earnings news.

Of the 95 companies in the S&P 500 stock index that have reported earnings through Friday morning, about 75 percent have topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 71 percent average for the past four quarters.

Overall, profits of S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 11.2 percent in the quarter, the best since 2011.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 12.15 points, or 0.06 percent, to 20,590.86, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 3.06 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,352.78 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 4.00 points, or 0.07 percent, to 5,912.77.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 rose 0.04 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 0.08 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.31 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS closed 0.48 percent higher, while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 rose 1.03 percent.

The U.S. dollar index .DXY rose 0.19 percent, with the Japanese yen 0.10 percent firmer versus the greenback at 109.23 per dollar, while Sterling GBP= was last trading at $1.2792, down 0.12 percent on the day.

“Traders understandably look content to flatten their books and ride out the weekend’s events from the sidelines,” Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, said in a note.

U.S. Treasury prices gained slightly with eyes on France and no major U.S. economic releases due to set market direction. 10-year note yields have held in a tight range since falling to five-month lows on Tuesday, as investors await a catalyst to determine if bonds will continue their rally.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 3/32 in price to yield 2.2302 percent, from 2.241 percent late on Thursday.

Spot gold XAU= added 0.2 percent to $1,284.01 an ounce. U.S. gold futures GCcv1 gained 0.19 percent to $1,286.20 an ounce.

Copper CMCU3 rose 0.26 percent to $5,637.50 a tonne.

Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 – tmsnrt.rs/2kIQHol

Graphic: French presidential election – tmsnrt.rs/2lPduBG

Graphic: Global assets in 2017 – reut.rs/2kD4BGA

Graphic: Global bonds dashboard – tmsnrt.rs/2lmwqHC

(Additional reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed, Julia Simon, Chuck Mikolajczak and Karen Brettell)