(Updates prices, adds comments)
* European shares at 20-month high after upbeat data,
* Copper hits lowest since early January
* U.S. stocks muted after House passes Obamacare repeal
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, May 4 Crude oil prices tumbled on
Thursday, erasing the gains made since a production cut deal
last November, while the euro strengthened against the U.S.
dollar as a pro-European Union centrist looked set to win the
Corporate results boosted European stocks to their highest
in almost two years, while losses in energy shares and gains in
the healthcare sector kept Wall Street little changed.
Bets on the U.S. Federal Reserve raising rates next month
rose to a 74 percent chance from 71 percent Wednesday, with help
from data showing new applications for jobless benefits fell
last week and the number of Americans on unemployment rolls hit
a 17-year low.
In a statement after a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, the
Fed downplayed recent weak economic data and said consumer
spending remained solid, business investment had firmed and
inflation was close to its target.
Traders remained cautious ahead of Friday's U.S. government
payrolls report, following March's underwhelming 98,000 figure.
Economists on average expect 185,000 jobs were created in April.
"I think there's a wait-and-see attitude with regards to the
government employment report after the big miss last month,"
said Bill Lynch, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates,
in Hinsdale, Illinois.
"Based on what the Fed said yesterday in their comments
they're pretty confident growth will pick up so I imagine that
would include a fairly strong labor number as well."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 23.15 points,
or 0.11 percent, to 20,934.75, the S&P 500 lost 0.03
points, or -0.00 percent, to 2,388.1 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 1.26 points, or 0.02 percent, to 6,071.29.
Reaction to the passage in the House of Representatives of a
bill to repeal major parts of Obamacare and replace it with a
Republican healthcare plan was muted.
"It passes the House, that's fine, now it goes to the
Senate, and we know in the Senate it is going to have a very
tough time. So even though it has passed the one, it is
certainly not a done deal yet. Obamacare is still very much
alive and intact," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE Floor
Division at O’Neil Securities in New York.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.67 percent
to its highest since August 2015 and MSCI's gauge of stocks
across the globe gained 0.11 percent.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.72 percent. MSCI's broadest
index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
closed 0.38 percent lower.
Oil prices tumbled to the lowest since late November on
signs that OPEC and other producing countries would not take
more drastic steps to reduce the world's persistent glut of
U.S. crude fell 4.85 percent to $45.50 per barrel
and Brent was at $48.39, down 4.73 percent on the day.
The euro hit its highest in about six months against the
U.S. dollar after centrist Emmanuel Macron consolidated his
position to win France's presidential race against anti-EU
candidate Marine Le Pen. Beyond Sunday's vote, traders looked at
the potential for the European Central Bank to signal further
reduction in bond-buying.
The dollar index touched its session low after the
U.S. healthcare vote and last fell 0.44 percent, with the euro
up 0.87 percent to $1.0977.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.28 percent versus the
greenback to 112.44 per dollar, while sterling was last
trading at $1.292, up 0.44 percent on the day.
Copper prices slid to four-month lows, following
their biggest one-day drop in 20 months, on rising inventories
and worries over cooling demand. Copper lost 1.02
percent to $5,542.85 a tonne.
Spot gold dropped 0.8 percent to $1,227.78 an ounce.
U.S. gold futures fell 1.64 percent to $1,228.00 an
U.S. Treasury yields rose on the jobs data and bets on the
Fed's next move.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 12/32 in price
to yield 2.3523 percent, from 2.309 percent late on Wednesday.
(Additional reporting by Karen Brettell, Sinead Carew, Chuck
Mikolajczak, Julia Simon, Devika Krishna Kumar and Sam Forgione
in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)