Oil prices rose on Friday after U.S. crude inventories dropped for a fourth consecutive week. Wildfires in Canada, which knocked out 10 percent of its oil sands output, also supported prices. Oil saw sharp falls earlier this week amid a strengthening dollar. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up $1.87 cents (or nearly 3 percent) to $64.45 a barrel, while U.S. crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), rose $1.60 (or 2.8 percent) to $59.28.
European financial markets rallied on Wednesday after reports that Greece and its creditors, including the International Monetary Fund, is nearing a deal that will proved debt relief to the struggling nation. Europe’s benchmark stock index closed 1.3 percent up with Greek shares gaining 3.6 percent. The euro strengthened 0.2 percent against the dollar to $1.09, up from its session low of $1.0815 earlier. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Greek government bond fell about 64 basis points to 11.3 percent.
Hungary's central bank cut its key interest rates by another 15 basis points as expected by economists. The Magyar Nemzeti Bank on Tuesday reduced the base rate to a record low 1.65 percent from 1.8 percent. This was the third consecutive monthly reduction in rates. The bank had lowered the rate by 15 basis points each in March and April.
High Income Economies
Official remittance flows to developing countries are estimated to have reached $436 billion in 2014, more than three times larger than official development assistance ($135 billion). However, flows to developing countries are expected to slow in 2015, especially in Europe and Central Asia, owing to a weak economic outlook in remittance source countries.
The dollar fell to its lowest level in three months as weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales reinforced the view that the Federal Reserve will hold off raising interest rates for some time to come. The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, fell 1% after hitting a more than three-month low. The gauge has now dropped some 6.5% from a 12-year peak reached in March. Meanwhile, the euro strengthened to as much as $1.137 versus the dollar.
U.S. Treasury prices moved lower, pushing yields up, as Eurozone government bonds extended declines from last week and the U.S. government prepared to sell $64 billion in new coupon-bearing debt this week. The yield on the U.S. 10-year note rose 6 basis points (bps) to 2.2%, while the 30-year bond yield gained 7 bps to 2.97%. The benchmark 10-year German bond yield has gained more than 50 basis points since April 27th.
Despite the recent uptick, oil prices remain about 45 percent lower than their levels in June 2014. While the direct impact of oil prices on poverty are likely to be limited, the indirect effects may be substantial and largely beneficial.
Romania's central bank unexpectedly cut its key interest rate on Wednesday for the seventh consecutive session to a new low. The Board of the National Bank of Romania reduced the monetary policy rate to 1.75% from 2.00%. Economists had expected the bank to leave rates unchanged following a quarter-point reduction in March. The central bank has lowered the rate steadily from 3.50% in six quarter-point reductions since August 2014.
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The European Central Bank (ECB) said it reached its purchase target of €60 billion in the second month of its bond-buying program. The ECB settled €47.7 billion of public-sector purchases in April, and filled the rest of the monthly quota with covered bonds and asset-backed securities. The weighted average maturity of the sovereign and supranational debt bought under the plan fell to 8.25 years in April from 8.56 years a month ago. German debt accounted for the biggest contribution to public-sector asset purchases.
U.S. Treasuries prices fell on Friday, extending an April slump, as a sell-off in European government bonds continued to diminish investor appetite for relatively higher U.S. yields. The Treasury 10-year note yield climbed 7 basis points to 2.10% after touching a seven-week high of 2.121% earlier. Investors cut their holdings of U.S. government debt in April, as hefty debt supply and growing optimism about Europe reduced safe-haven appeal of U.S. Treasuries, German bunds, and British gilts.