U.S. oil prices stay near two-year highs

Drawdown in fuel inventories pointed to a tightening market

U.S. oil prices remained near two-year highs on Thursday as the shutdown of the Keystone pipeline and a drawdown in fuel inventories pointed to a tightening market, despite rising output.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.95 a barrel at 0143 GMT, down 7 cents from their last settlement, but still close to 2015-highs of $58.15 a barrel reached the previous day.Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $63.19 per barrel, 13 cents below their last close.

In stocks, moves in Asian share markets were minor with Japanese markets closed for a holiday and the United States off for Thanksgiving.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eked out a fresh 10-year peak with a rise of 0.15 percent, as did Hong Kong's main index.

In the Middle East, Gulf stock markets mostly rebounded from several days of weakness on Wednesday, encouraged by strong oil prices, though Emaar Development sank on its debut.

Emaar Development, the local property development unit of Emaar Properties, closed at 5.77 dirhams, down from its IPO price of 6.03 dirhams. But Dubai's index closed 1.0 percent higher as Emaar Properties, which had been falling in the days ahead of its unit's listing, rebounded 2.6 percent.GFH Financial, by far the most heavily traded Dubai stock by volume, surged 6.1 percent.

Abu Dhabi's index fell 0.9 percent as telecommunications blue chip Etisalat retreated 1.2 percent.

Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.7 percent in a broad-based rebound as gainers outnumbered decliners by 140 to 41. Petrochemical investor Alujain jumped its 10 percent daily limit in heavy trade.

Egypt's main index added 0.8 percent.

In currencies, the dollar touched a two-month low against the yen on Thursday, having tumbled after the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed some policymakers were concerned about persistently low inflation in a blow to rate hawks.

The dollar eased to as low as 111.07 yen in holiday-thinned Asian trade, its weakest level since Sept. 18, and last fetched 111.22 yen, little changed from late U.S. trade on Wednesday.

Gold prices nudged lower early Thursday, after gaining nearly one percent in the previous session on weaker U.S. economic data and concerns by some Federal Reserve policymakers about lower inflation.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,290.74 per ounce by 0109 GMT. 

In other news, Egypt's gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of the 2017/2018 financial year climbed to 5.2 percent from 3.4 percent the previous year, the planning minister said on Wednesday.

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© ZAWYA 2017

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