Brent at 16-month high, Treasury yields climb further

By Rodrigo Campos
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Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York City

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brent crude futures rose to a 16-month high on Thursday on the heels of OPEC's agreement a day earlier to cut oil output, while Treasury yields continued to climb following the weakest monthly performance for global bonds in almost 13 years.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield jumped to its highest since July 2015 to start the month, after Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Global Broad Market Index fell 1.76 percent in November, its steepest monthly percentage drop since a 2.06 percent fall in July 2003. <.MERGBMI>

Bets on faster inflation in the United States, on the back of higher oil prices and the expected policies of the incoming Trump administration, have sent Treasury yields soaring as inflation erodes bond prices. A stronger-than-expected U.S. manufacturing reading for November and a rise in U.S. construction spending in October also boosted yields.

"Investors are building the possibility of inflation into the Treasury curve," said Ellis Phifer, market strategist at Raymond James in Memphis, Tennessee.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield hit a session high at 2.492 percent. The benchmark notes last were down 24/32 in price to yield 2.4517 percent.

The dollar index <.DXY>, which closed its second consecutive month of gains above 3 percent, slipped 0.54 percent. The British pound strengthened against the greenback for the seventh time in nine sessions.

The euro rose 0.70 percent to $1.0659.

On Wall Street, declines in technology shares weighed on the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500. With the backdrop of higher interest rates, investors are likely to trim exposure to companies with high price-to-earnings ratios, which include some of the largest tech names, according to Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"In a higher rate environment you are going to want to pay less for growth further out. To a large extent that is probably what is happening in the higher P/E stocks," she said.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 68.35 points, or 0.36 percent, to 19,191.93, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 7.73 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,191.08 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 72.57 points, or 1.36 percent, to 5,251.11.

The Dow set a record closing high.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> ended down 0.59 percent, while MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> fell 0.23 percent.

Emerging market stocks <.MSCIEF> fell 0.5 percent.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on Wednesday to its first oil output reduction since 2008 after the group's leading producer Saudi Arabia accepted "a big hit" and dropped a demand that arch-rival Iran also slash output.

The deal also included OPEC's first coordinated action in 15 years with non-member Russia. Azerbaijan said it was also willing to discuss cuts.

U.S. crude last was up 3.0 percent to $50.91 a barrel and Brent traded at $53.69, up 3.6 percent on the day.

Spot gold sank to its lowest in nearly 10 months but later pared losses and was last up 0.01 percent at $1,171.01 an ounce.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos Additional reporting by Richard Leong, Chuck Mikolajczak and Sam Forgione; Editing by Andrew Hay and James Dalgleish)