March 24, 2016 / 12:38 AM / 4 years ago

Dollar strength hurts stocks, oil bounces off lows

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity markets declined on Thursday and the dollar added to a recent string of gains after another U.S. Federal Reserve official talked of higher U.S. interest rates before long.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The dollar .DXY rose for a fifth day, adding 0.07 percent to 96.116 against a basket of major currencies. The streak is the longest for the dollar in nearly a year and puts the greenback on track for its first weekly rise in a month.

The gains were further supported by remarks of St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, who joined a chorus of officials who have recently highlighted the chance of at least two rate increases this year, with the first perhaps as soon as April.

The dollar’s strength weighed on oil prices, although they partly rebounded from session lows after a drop in the U.S. oil rig count eased some concerns stemming from recent data showing record high U.S. stockpiles.

“You have to somehow break out of the cycle, when you are so dependent on everything the Fed does or everything a central banker says. That kind of locks up the market,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

“It is really frustrating we are stuck with these guys, and every time they say something the market reacts.”

The rally in crude prices to above $40 a barrel had been a big factor in stock market advances in recent weeks, helping the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX rise more than 12 percent from a Feb. 11 low.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 13.35 points, or 0.08 percent, to 17,515.94, the S&P 500 .SPX dropped 0.74 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,035.97 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 4.64 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,773.51.

Volume across markets was light, with many closing on Friday ahead of the Easter holiday.

U.S. crude CLc1 settled down 0.83 percent at $39.46 a barrel, recovering from a session low of $38.33 after sliding 4 percent on Wednesday. Brent LCOc1 settled down slightly, off 0.07 percent at $40.44, after an earlier drop to $39.22.

The oil pullback has pressured U.S. and European equities this week, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 and S&P 500 suffering their worst drop in six weeks.

MSCI’s index of world shares .MIWD00000PUS, down 0.57 percent on the session, was off 1.4 percent for the week.

The stronger dollar and softer oil prices were reflected in data on U.S. durable goods orders, which showed a drop in February, while weekly jobless claims continued to point to a solid labor market.

Gold XAU= slipped 0.2 percent to $1,217.30 an ounce, after hitting its lowest since late February at $1,212.20, and was down 3 percent for the week, its worst performance since November.

Copper CMCU3, down nearly 2 percent for the week, was off 0.09 percent at $4,945.15 a tonne.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year notes US10YT=RR were last down 7/32 in price to yield 1.9 percent, up from 1.875 percent on Wednesday.

Editing by Bernadette Baum and Steve Orlofsky

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