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Shares take breather as traders await Fed; oil slips

NEW YORK - Stock markets worldwide rose modestly on Thursday in a breather from recent losses as traders assessed the impact of volatile commodities prices and a possible Federal Reserve rate increase next week, while oil prices fell as oversuppl...

 

NEW YORK - Stock markets worldwide rose modestly on Thursday in a breather from recent losses as traders assessed the impact of volatile commodities prices and a possible Federal Reserve rate increase next week, while oil prices fell as oversupply concerns persisted.

U.S. stocks rose even as U.S. crude prices continued to hover around 7-year lows and investors awaited the rate hike decision by the Fed. The central bank meets on Dec. 15-16, when it is expected to raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

European shares edged higher after touching a two-month low, but retailers and tech firms remained under pressure.

U.S. crude fell to a near seven-year low as worries over a global glut persisted and prices were seen as vulnerable to further weakness in the run up to year-end.

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Brent crude was last down 34 cents at $39.77 a barrel. U.S. crude was last down 29 cents at $36.87 per barrel.

"People are focused on two things right now: they're looking at commodity prices, they're looking at interest rates, and they're tying to figure out how that is going to impact growth heading into next year," said Bryan Novak, portfolio manager at Astor Investment Management in Chicago.

MSCI's all-country world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, was last up 0.64 points or 0.16 percent, at 400.4.

The Dow Jones industrial average was last up 124.6 points, or 0.71 percent, at 17,616.9. The S&P 500 was up 11.32 points, or 0.55 percent, at 2,058.94. The Nasdaq Composite was up 24.14 points, or 0.48 percent, at 5,047.01.

Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index was last up 0.12 percent, at 1,432.32.

The dollar rose as markets refocused on the expected rate increase from the Fed, moving up from one-month lows against the euro and yen. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, was last up 0.57 percent, at 97.904.

"You are seeing people become more convinced that the Fed is going to move on autopilot," said Karl Schamotta, director of FX strategy and structured products at Cambridge Mercantile Group in Toronto.

U.S. long-dated Treasury debt yields edged lower in a generally thin market, weighed down again by the slump in oil prices, which suggested inflation would remain benign.

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A rise in weekly U.S. jobless claims further pushed yields lower, with both benchmark 10-year note and 30-year bond yields dipping to session lows.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were last down 5/32 in price to yield 2.23 percent, from a byield of 2.21 percent late Wednesday. U.S. 30-year yields were last down 6/32 in price to yield 2.97 percent, from a yield of 2.96 percent late Wednesday.

Gold edged lower and was vulnerable to further weakness as the dollar rebounded and ahead of the Fed meeting next week. Spot gold prices rose 79 cents to $1,073.60 an ounce.

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