Dollar strengthens after economic data, pressuring oil | Reuters

NEW YORK The U.S. dollar surged to a more than two-week high against a basket of currencies following stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data, putting pressure on oil prices, which fell after three days of gains.

After cutting losses following the economic data, Wall Street was little changed in late morning trading.

U.S. retail sales in April recorded their biggest increase in a year as Americans stepped up purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods, suggesting the economy was regaining momentum.

But lacklustre quarterly results from department store operators Nordstrom and J.C. Penney, following weak reports from retailers earlier in the week, reignited jitters about the consumer sector.

While the retail sales report was positive, "it’s one number after a sequence of some fairly tepid numbers coming out of that consumer discretionary area," said Jeff Buetow, president of investment consulting firm BFRC Services in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 6.13 points, or 0.03 percent, at 17,726.63, the S&P 500 rose 1.75 point, or 0.08 percent, to 2,065.86 and the Nasdaq Composite added 20.64 points, or 0.44 percent, to 4,757.97.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq was helped by a rebound in Apple after the iPhone maker hit a two-year low on Thursday, and strong results from chipmaker Nvidia.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index gained 0.3 percent, rebounding from losses earlier in the session after the U.S. retail sales report.

MSCI's broad index of global shares fell 0.4 percent, as Asian markets were weak. The index is off about 1 percent for 2016, with stocks rebounding after a rough start to the year but little changed in recent weeks.

Concerns about the global economy persist and investors are responding to diverging policies between the Federal Reserve and other major central banks.

Along with the positive retail sales report, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index surged 6.8 points to 95.8 early this month, the highest reading since June.

Following the upbeat economic data, the dollar climbed 0.7 percent against a basket of currencies.

"In response to this (retail sales) number, markets appear to have concluded that the dollar sell-off through the early part of the year was overdone," said Karl Schamotta, head of enterprise risk management at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.

A three-day run for oil prices came to a halt as the stronger dollar weighed and investors cashed in on recent gains. A stronger U.S. currency weighs on greenback-denominated commodities such as oil futures.

Losses were cushioned by outages in Nigeria that have slashed output there to the lowest in 22 years.

Global benchmark Brent fell 0.7 percent to $47.75 a barrel, while U.S. crude dropped 1.1 percent to $46.19 a barrel.

Oil prices have recovered some ground after touching 12-year lows earlier in 2016.

The U.S. yield curve flattened to the lowest levels in two months after the U.S. economic data. Short- and intermediate-dated debt underperformed long-dated bonds after the data, putting the two-year, 10-year yield curve at its flattest since March 9.

Benchmark 10-year notes were last up 8/32 in price to yield 1.7327 percent, down from 1.76 percent late on Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Graham and Karolin Schaps in London and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Karen Brettell in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: May 14, 2016 00:00:12 IST

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