GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares and oil up, euro firmer but growth concerns lurk

Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:27am EST

* High oil price clouds growth picture

* Euro hovers near 10-week highs vs dollar

* U.S. shares open higher; world stocks up

* U.S. bonds up slightly

NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Oil prices climbed and were headed for a fifth straight weekly gain on Friday, but stocks rose as investors focused on bright spots in the global economy.

Unease about higher oil prices and doubts about the implementation of Greece's rescue deal tempered some of the risk appetite, but U.S. bond prices were up slightly.

A day after hitting a record high in euro terms, Brent crude jumped above $124 a barrel, raising worries a run of sharp price gains could stymie the euro zone's growth prospects, making it harder for governments to meet budget targets and pull the currency bloc out of its debt crisis.

Brent has risen more than 11 percent so far this month, on worries over Iranian supply in particular, and reached a high of $124.28 on Friday.

"The supportive factors (for crude oil prices) are on the supply side - Iran and Iran and Iran, with a bit of Syria and Sudan," said Christopher Bellew, a broker at Jefferies Bache in London. "It would not be at these numbers if it was not for the supply-side problems."

U.S. stocks opened higher, bringing the Standard & Poor's 500 closer to peaks not since before the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 27.62 points, or 0.21 percent, at 13,012.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 4.15 points, or 0.30 percent, at 1,367.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 9.07 points, or 0.31 percent, at 2,966.05.

"We've touched these significant points (in the stock indices) and they haven't shown a lot of support, that makes me want to look at the short term with a cautious eye," said Joseph Cangemi, managing director at BNY ConvergEx Group in New York.

Global stocks as measured by MSCI were up 0.6 percent, with European stocks rose 0.5 percent.

Data on Friday confirmed Germany's economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, but investors were optimistic that Europe's biggest economy will avoid falling into recession after a strong business sentiment reading on Thursday.

The euro was last up 0.7 percent after hitting a 10-week high at $1.3412 on trading platform EBS.

In the U.S. Treasury marekt, the benchmark 10-year U.S. note was up 4/32, with the yield at 1.9809 percent.

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Comments (1)
kafantaris wrote:
Iran faces a delicate issue. On the one hand it wants to show the world all it’s got and put it at ease, while on the other hand it fears that such show ‘n tell will give its enemies a roadmap to bomb it.
Saddam Hussein faced a similar dilemma ten years ago. Though he wanted the world to know he had nothing to hide, he also wanted to bluff his archenemy Iran into believing Iraq still had WMD.
Bluffing did not go well for Saddam, and it might not go well for Ahmadinejad.
But since the price tag for ridding Saddam proved high, maybe we ought to reflect what we are asking of Iran now. On the eve of a threatened attack, we are asking it to take us to the depths of its arsenal and show us all it’s got.
Such great expectations are a sign we have been talking to our friends too long and are in need of a broader perspective. Exactly when was the last time we asked Pakistan, India, China or Russia to show us their arsenal?
“But those countries are not advocating the destruction of Israel.”
True, but Israel is not a thorn on their side either.
Surely, however, we can see beyond the hyperboles and figure out their underlying purpose. Or have we forgotten that not all Iranians are thrilled with Ahmadinejad?
He sure hasn’t forgotten.
Nor has he forgotten that that his countrymen hate Israel even more. So he tells them that Israel will be wiped from the face of the earth. Expectantly, this nonsense unites them against a common enemy. It is even a diversion from the misery and isolation brought on by his theocratic regime.
Quite clever work by Ahmadinejad — and not a rial spent or a bullet fired.
So why are we letting the crazy talk about destroying Israel get us all worked-up — to the point of turning the world topsy-turvy again.
Can we not see the desperate attempts of an unpopular regime simply trying to hold on?

Feb 24, 2012 3:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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