Oil rallies as US, UK strike Huthis, stocks mixed after US CPI

Oil rallies as US, UK strike Huthis, stocks mixed after US CPI

The US-UK strikes in Yemen fanned worries about a wider conflict in the oil-rich Middle East that could hit oil supplies
The US-UK strikes in Yemen fanned worries about a wider conflict in the oil-rich Middle East that could hit oil supplies. Photo: Frederic J. BROWN / AFP
Source: AFP

Oil prices surged Friday after US and UK forces launched strikes against Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen following attacks on ships in the Red Sea, fuelling worries about a wider conflict in the crude-rich region.

The move weighed on sentiment among investors, though stocks were mixed after data showing US inflation rose more than expected last month further dented hopes for an early interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve.

The offensive against rebel positions in Yemen -- which included fighter jets and Tomahawk missiles -- fanned already high tensions in the Middle East as Israel presses on with a war in Gaza in response to a Hamas attack on the country in October.

The Huthis have carried out a growing number of strikes on the key international Red Sea route since the Gaza war erupted, hitting trade flows at a time when supply strains are putting upward pressure on inflation globally.

Read also

Biden sells economic strength, but voters aren't buying yet

Washington and London's decision followed a Huthi bombardment this week that was said to be their heaviest to date, having carried out missions on an almost daily basis since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

News of the US-UK strikes, which President Joe Biden said also had support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands, sent oil prices up more than two percent Friday, with analysts saying WTI could pass $75 and Brent could top $80.

PAY ATTENTION: Let yourself be inspired by real people who go beyond the ordinary! Subscribe and watch our new shows on Briefly TV Life now!

The jump in prices sparked concerns about a fresh spike in inflation that could complicate central bank pivots to a more dovish monetary policy this year, reviving worries about the economy.

"If oil were to substantially increase... that would jeopardise... this soft landing scenario that is quite likely for the year," Andrew Slimmon, of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, told Bloomberg Television.

Read also

US consumer inflation jumps more than expected to 3.4%

Investor sentiment was further dampened by data showing the US consumer price index rose more than forecast in December, dealing another blow to the prospects of the Fed starting its rate cut cycle as soon as March.

Equities had finished 2023 with a strong rally on expectations the central bank would hit the ground running on cutting rates owing to falling inflation and an indication from decision-makers that they would do so this year.

But minutes from the Fed's December meeting showed officials were keen to keep borrowing costs elevated for an extended period to make sure they had a handle on prices. That was followed by forecast-busting jobs data that showed the labour market remained resilient.

While Thursday's closely watched CPI reading was not the nail in the coffin for a March reduction, observers said it made that argument harder to make.

Still, Chris Zaccarelli of the Independent Advisor Alliance said: "What should be most important for investors is that the Fed is done raising rates.

Read also

Asian markets track Wall St gains ahead of key inflation data

"Whether they cut in March or cut in June and whether they cut four times, three times, or only two times, shouldn't matter too much."

Wall Street's three main indexes ended flat, and Asia was mixed.

Hong Kong and Shanghai climbed after data showing another drop in Chinese consumer prices that fanned speculation the government will unveil fresh stimulus measures for the beleaguered economy.

There were also gains in Wellington, Manila and Jakarta, while Tokyo piled on more than one percent to extend a rally that on Thursday propelled it past 35,000 for the first time since 1990.

The Nikkei surge has been fuelled by a weaker yen, which boosts exporters, and optimism about the outlook for the Japanese economy.

Still, Sydney, Singapore, Seoul and Taipei were in the red.

Key figures around 0230 GMT

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.6 percent at $73.86 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 2.4 percent at $79.30 per barrel

Read also

Stock markets diverge awaiting inflation data, earnings

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 35,422.95 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.4 percent at 16,362.11

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 2,902.49

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 145.02 yen from 145.29 yen on Thursday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2781 from $1.2770

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0984 from $1.0969

Euro/pound: UP at 85.95 pence from 85.94 pence

New York - Dow: FLAT at 37,711.02 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.0 at 7,576.59 (close)

PAY ATTENTION: Сheck out news that is picked exactly for YOU - click on “Recommended for you” and enjoy!

Source: AFP

AFP avatar

AFP AFP text, photo, graphic, audio or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. AFP news material may not be stored in whole or in part in a computer or otherwise except for personal and non-commercial use. AFP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions in any AFP news material or in transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages whatsoever. As a newswire service, AFP does not obtain releases from subjects, individuals, groups or entities contained in its photographs, videos, graphics or quoted in its texts. Further, no clearance is obtained from the owners of any trademarks or copyrighted materials whose marks and materials are included in AFP material. Therefore you will be solely responsible for obtaining any and all necessary releases from whatever individuals and/or entities necessary for any uses of AFP material.