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Global stocks rise as U.S. jobs data points to rate hike; crude slips

Women, dressed in ceremonial kimonos, stand in front of an electronic board showing stock prices after the New Year opening ceremony at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), held to wish for the success of Japan's stock market, in Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon -

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crude oil resumed a sharp decline and global equity markets rose on Friday after a robust U.S. jobs report drove home the strength of the world's biggest economy and set the stage for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next week.

U.S. employment increased more than expected in February and wages rose steadily, providing the Fed a green light to raise rates at a policy-setting meeting on March 15.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 235,000 jobs as the construction sector recorded its largest gain in nearly a decade due to unseasonably warm weather, the U.S. Labor Department said.

"There's nothing here that's going to keep the Fed from hiking interest rates next week," said Heidi Learner, chief economist at Savills Studley, a unit of Savills Plc in New York.

Expectations the U.S. central bank will hike rates next week rose to 92 percent after the jobs report, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Shares on Wall Street posted broad-based gains while banking stocks in the euro zone hit their highest in more than a year on expectations the European Central Bank, after a meeting on Thursday, will tighten policy in March 2018.

The ECB indicated less urgency for more policy action and signalled an optimistic economic outlook for the euro zone.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3) of leading European companies trimmed gains to close down 0.01 percent to 1,470.53 as growing talk of ECB tightening hit utilities and export-oriented stocks.

MSCI's all-country world stock index <.MIWD00000PUS> rose 0.6 percent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) closed up 44.79 points, or 0.21 percent, to 20,902.98. The S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 7.73 points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,372.6 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 22.92 points, or 0.39 percent, to 5,861.73.

European bond yields soared on a report that said the ECB is preparing for a gradual phasing out of its stimulus measures, according to two sources familiar with the discussion.

Oil prices fell further on reports of heavy oversupply despite production cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Brent crude oil (LCOc1) settled down 82 cents at $51.37 a barrel, while U.S. crude (CLc1) fell 79 cents to settle at $48.49.

U.S. crude has slumped nearly 9 percent since Tuesday's close in its biggest three-day decline since February 2016.

Analysts said they expected a period of market consolidation after this week's heavy declines, but another selloff is possible if investors are forced to sell loss-making contracts.

"The market remains overwhelmingly long and any further weakness will force additional reductions," Saxo Bank's head of commodity strategy, Ole Hansen, told Reuters Global Oil Forum.

The euro zone's main gauge of borrowing costs posted its biggest fortnightly rise in nearly two years as investors prepared for rate hikes in the United States and eventually in Europe.

In sovereign debt markets, yields on Germany's 10-year bond, an indication of the rate at which a country can borrow on financial markets, climbed 7 basis points to 0.496 percent , a level last seen in January 2016 as funds ditched safe-haven German bonds.

"With the global economy now in firm recovery, central banks are gradually unplugging life support, a reality bond investors still cannot bear watching," said Societe Generale strategist Ciaran O'Hagan.

Spot gold recovered from an early drop to five-week lows. U.S. gold futures (GCv1) for April delivery settled down 0.2 percent at $1,201.40 an ounce.

The dollar and U.S. Treasury yields fell after the U.S. jobs report failed to meet elevated expectations, tempering the immediate outlook for future interest rate increases.

Economists at Goldman Sachs said they expect the Fed to raise rates next week for the first time this year and they now see the next hike in June, rather than September.

The euro (EUR=) was up 1.03 percent to $1.0684.

The dollar index (.DXY), which tracks the greenback against six major world currencies, fell 0.56 percent to 101.280.

Benchmark Treasury yields receded from 12-week highs. The 10-year Treasury note rose 5/32 in price, pushing yields down to 2.580 percent.


(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and James Dalgleish)