By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Monday to approach a record peak, and European equity markets also advanced, thanks to strong gains in the energy sector as oil prices touched a three-week high.
Brent crude <LCOc1> surged more than 3 percent to $48.30, it's highest level in nearly three weeks, as the dollar weakened and OPEC appeared closer to agreement on an output cut when it meets next week. U.S. crude was last up 2.7 percent after hitting a three-week high
Among U.S. equities, the S&P energy index <.SPNY> gained 1.9 percent as the top-performing sector, helping to push the benchmark S&P 500 index just shy of its intraday record of 2,193,81 set on Aug. 15. The advance put the index on pace to set a closing high.
"I am quite surprised to see oil moving higher - every time we get these discussions about OPEC agreements and production cuts, they always fall apart, nobody sticks to them - the oil cartel is very shaky," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
"What ends up happening is you get people speculating, it pushes the prices up and then it ends up coming back down."
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 48.01 points, or 0.25 percent, to 18,915.94, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 11.17 points, or 0.51 percent, to 2,193.07 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 31.23 points, or 0.59 percent, to 5,352.74.
The Nasdaq hit an intraday record for a second day, reaching as high as 5,362.48, but market participants cautioned that volume was likely to be light this week ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday.
The climb in oil lifted European markets, with the STOXX Europe oil & gas index <.SXEP> up 2.2 percent. Europe's index of leading 300 shares <.FTEU3> gained 0.3 percent. MSCI's all-country world index <.MIWD00000PUS> advanced 0.6 percent.
The dollar <.DXY> fell 0.3 percent to 100.94 against a basket of major currencies, pausing after a 10-day streak that saw it gaining nearly 5 percent. That rally was fueled by expectations of policies by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that would lead to interest rate increases.
In similar fashion, U.S. Treasury yields, which have soared in the wake of the U.S. election, declined from one-year highs as the recent selloff tempted some new buyers. Benchmark 10-year note yields <US10YT=RR> jumped as high as 2.36 percent on Friday and were last up 4/32 in price to yield 2.3244 percent.
Copper prices <CMCU3>, which have risen on Trump's promise to spend heavily on infrastructure, were up 2.6 percent <CMCU3> at $5,566 a tonne on the prospect of better demand in top consumer China and on the dip in the greenback.
The pause in the U.S. dollar rally helped gold <XAU=> bounce from a 5-1/2 month low. Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,213.27 an ounce.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak)