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Global shares, oil and ruble rally into Christmas period

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December 22
7:53 AM 2014

World share markets extended their 'Santa rally' into a fourth day on Monday, as a recovery in beaten-down oil prices and the ruble and more calls for quantitative easing from the ECB helped lift sentiment.

There were also hopes that Greece could avoid destabilizing snap elections after Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras made a surprise offer to bring pro-European independents into the government if they backed his choice for new president.

Asian markets had set the tone with gains of 1 percent as they followed on from Wall Street's strong finish to last week and European bourses were just as buoyant.

Britain's blue-chip FTSE 100 index advanced by 1 percent, Germany's DAX by 0.9 percent and France's CAC rose 1.2 percent to leave the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index up a total of 0.85 percent.

"Overall the concerns (about the plunge in oil prices, Russia and Greece) are fading into the background a bit," said head of equity strategy at ABN Amro, Sybren Brouwer.

"The market recovery is pretty sharp and sharper in Europe than other markets."

Recently battered oil prices were also on the up. Brent jumped 2 percent $62.86 while U.S. crude climbed a similar amount to $58.28 a barrel as consensus spread that prices would remain firmer for the rest of the year.

They are now almost 7 percent higher than last week's more than five-year lows.

That helped the commodity currencies like ruble which continued its recent rebound with another 2 percent jump as the Australian and Canadian dollars also made ground.

Stocks in Moscow were also flying, with the dollar-traded up over 4 percent as it also emerged that oil firm Rosneft had paid around $7 billion due on loan from a syndicate of international banks, ending recent doubts.

GREECE

The euro, meanwhile, bounced back from two-year lows against the dollar, with Greece's presidential election and a batch of U.S. data on Tuesday the chief risks to a calmer holiday mood.

Over the weekend, Belgium's Luc Coene became the latest European Central Bank policymaker to back outright government bond-buying to stimulate the euro zone. The bank's vice president also warned of a temporary stint of deflation.

"We now expect a negative inflation rate in the coming months and that is something that every central bank has to look at very closely," Vitor Constancio said.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against a basket of six rival currencies, inched down about 0.2 percent to 89.458, but was still within sight of a near nine-year peak of 89.645 set on Friday.

Against the yen, however, the dollar was up at 119.77, though it was still well away from a 7-1/2 year high of 121.86 touched this month.

In Europe's bond market, hopes that Greece can avoid another damaging political episode also pushed down Greek yields. Ten-year bonds dipped 11 basis points to 8.32 percent, while five-year equivalents dipped 30 bps to 8.55 percent.

Greece's government only managed to muster 160 out of the 200 votes needed to seat its new candidate in the first round of presidential voting last week, but it hopes a coalition of pro-European independents could give it a chance of winning in a final attempt on Dec. 29 where it only needs 180 votes.

If it fails, the worry for markets is that it will start a chain of events that ends with the anti-bailout Syriza party in power which would revive fears about a Greek exit from the euro.

ABN Amro's Brouwer said the current government joining forces with pro-European independents "would definitely be a good thing."

"I don't think it (Greek worry) was the major reason for the recent correction that we saw but it certainly added to some of the other concerns."

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