Oil jumps 4 percent after stockpile data; dollar gains

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices jumped on Wednesday as government data showed U.S. crude stocks rose slightly less than expected last week, while the U.S. dollar advanced against the euro ahead of Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting.

U.S. stocks climbed as a rebound in oil prices added to optimism sparked by a raft of earnings reports.

Speculation that major oil producers would meet in Russia in May for another attempt at curtailing output also boosted oil prices. Moscow, however, denied media reports that Russia planned to host such a meeting.

Last weekend, Russia and OPEC nations failed to reach an agreement on freezing production at a meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Brent crude oil settled up $1.77, or 4 percent, at $45.80 a barrel, while U.S. front-month crude, which expired at Wednesday’s settlement, finished up $1.55, or 3.8 percent, at $42.63.

Gains in oil along with other commodities helped push the Thomson Reuters Core Commodity Index up 2 percent to highest level since December. Chicago Board of Trade soybean, wheat and corn futures all climbed.

On Wall Street, investors focused on the earnings season as they seek catalysts to drive stocks higher. Intuitive Surgical rose 3.3 percent after stronger-than-expected profit, though other reports disappointed. Coca-Cola was down 4.8 percent after reporting a drop in sales.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.67 points, or 0.24 percent, to 18,096.27, the S&P 500 gained 1.6 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,102.4 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.80 points, or 0.16 percent, to 4,948.13.

Driven 15 percent higher since mid-February by a recovery in weak prices and helped by a softer dollar, the S&P 500 stood less than 30 points below last May’s all-time peak.

“It would be overly optimistic to assume it’s clear sailing from here,” said Alan Gayle, director of asset allocation at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta. “The good news has to keep on coming for this market to keep moving higher.”

The MSCI All-Country World index was up 0.1 percent, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended up 0.5 percent.

The U.S. dollar rose against the euro on fears that comments from the ECB on Thursday could hurt the euro zone common currency, while some riskier commodity currencies remained near multi-month highs on relief over China’s economy.

The ECB, though, is not expected to make any policy changes at its meeting on Thursday. It is expected to reiterate its plans to support the euro zone economy, according to analysts.

The euro eased from a one-week high against the dollar of $1.1386 touched earlier in the session and was last down 0.55 percent at $1.1293 ahead of the ECB meeting.

U.S. Treasury yields rose to three-week highs, as oil and stock prices gained, reducing demand for safe-haven bonds, and as new sales of corporate debt also weighed on the market.

Benchmark 10-year note prices fell 20/32 to yield 1.85 percent, up from 1.78 percent on Tuesday. Yields had held between 1.81 percent and 1.69 percent since the beginning of April.

Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco, Karen Brettell in New York and Sudip Kar-Gupta, Anirban Nag, Simon Falush and Dhara Ranasinghe in London; Editing by Nick Zieminski, James Dalgleish and Diane Craft