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Oil prices hover near two-month high, investors wait for U.S. payrolls report

News Date: 4/3/2016 00:40:21
Oil prices kept up their momentum on Friday as shares rose across the globe on hopes of more stimulus measures by the European central bank and Asian central banks as well, while a meeting scheduled this month between major crude producers to discuss production freezing plans is also helping sentiment in oil markets.

Brent crude futures last traded at $37.20 a barrel, up 13 cents on the day, or a third of a point, near a two-month high at $37.40. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures crept up 20 cents, or about 0.60% to hover around $34.82 a barrel.

Asian shares were about to score their biggest weekly gains in five months, with Japan's Nikkei index inching up 0.13% on the day to trade at 16,981, a one-month high and near the psychological level of 17,000, while Australian shares climbed 0.35%. China's Shanghai index on the other hand gave up 0.15%, rattled by a spate of weak data.

Wall Street closed Thursday with some profits, as investors wait for the all-important payrolls report today, with Dow Jones closing up 44 points, or 0.26% at 16,943, while NASDAQ Composite gained four points, or 0.09% to end at 4,707. S&P 500 edged up seven points, or 0.35% to 1,993.

The dollar index rose slightly in the Asian session of Thursday, advancing 0.10% to 97.71, while the euro slipped 0.10% against the greenback to 1.0947. Sterling shed 0.16% to trade at 1.4155, and Japan's yen gave up 0.08% versus its American rival to hover around 113.78. Aussie edged up 0.15% to 0.7363.

Investors wait for the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report later today, with expectations pointing to an increase of 195 thousand jobs in February, better than January's 151K addition, which would raise chances of a Fed rate hike, buoying the dollar.

Also from the U.S., Average Hourly Earnings are expected to have risen 0.2% m/m in February, slowing down from January's 0.5% growth, but still a healthy pace of monthly growth, underpinning inflation and the dollar further.

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