LONDON (AP) — Oil prices fell sharply Friday in the wake of figures showing U.S. stock levels continue to build. Global stock markets, meanwhile, lacked momentum at the end of what has been a volatile week, largely due to shifting opinions on when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent to 11,794 while the CAC-40 in France was 0.3 percent lower at 4,973. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.4 percent at 6,734. U.S. stocks were poised for modest falls at the open with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.1 percent.
END OF YO-YO WEEK: The week started with growing anxiety over when the Fed will start raising rates following a run of upbeat U.S. economic data, including February's nonfarm payrolls report. However, soft retail figures for January, released Thursday, have tempered those expectations somewhat. And with the strong dollar likely to dampen U.S. growth by making exports more expensive and exert downward pressure on inflation by making imports cheaper, there are renewed doubts that the Fed will pull the trigger in June.
ANALYST TAKE: "Coming as it did on the back of two previously disappointing months, the weak number has once again seeded doubts about how the Federal Reserve might react next week to a continued softening of U.S. data," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
OIL MOVE: After stabilizing in recent days, the price of oil renewed its downward drift Friday after weekly supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed stock levels rising.
The International Energy Agency, meanwhile, warned Friday that the stabilization in the oil price is precarious. "The rebalancing triggered by the price collapse has yet to run its course," the agency said in a monthly report.
A barrel of benchmark U.S. crude was down $1.08 at $45.67 while the Brent international standard fell 51 cents to $56.78 a barrel.
ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.4 percent to 19,254.25 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.8 percent to 1,985.79. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to 23,823.21 and China's Shanghai Composite was up 0.7 percent to 3,372.91. But Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent to 5,814.50. Stocks in Southeast Asia were lower.
CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar remained in the ascendant, with the euro down 0.4 percent at $1.0581. Against the yen, it was 0.1 percent higher at 121.47 yen.