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European stocks enjoy 'Santa Claus rally' as oil rises

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Europe's main stock markets rose strongly on Monday in a renewed "Santa Claus rally" powered by a modest recovery in oil prices, dealers said.

In late morning deals in the British capital, London's FTSE 100 index of leading shares jumped 1.02 percent to 6,611.96 points compared with Friday's close.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 won 0.67 percent to 9,852.58 points and in Paris the CAC 40 leapt 1.04 percent to 4,285.94.

The euro edged up to $1.2260 after sliding as low as $1.2220 in earlier Asian deals, matching Friday's two-year trough that was struck as the Federal Reserve signalled it may rise US interest rates in the middle of 2015.

"As the markets begin to wind down for Christmas, the Santa rally was still being felt ... with a quiet economic day ahead," said Spreadex trader Connor Campbell.

"After spending the last six weeks as the Scrooge of the economic world, oil has undergone a slight rejuvenation; in this current climate, any price above $60 per barrel for Brent crude oil is a signifier of hope for the markets."

Global oil prices rebounded slightly, with analysts predicting the sector has bottomed out after plunging by around 50 percent since June.

- Oil market forges ahead -

London's Brent crude for February delivery advanced 76 cents to $62.14 per barrel in late morning deals, and US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for February climbed 53 cents to $57.66 a barrel.

The gains extended a rebound on Friday, wiping out losses earlier last week that saw prices hit fresh five-year lows on the back of ample supplies and mounting demand worries.

Oil has however shed about half its value since June, and a decision in November by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to maintain output levels despite falling prices has weighed heavily on the market.

"Brent crude is up ... boosting energy shares across the FTSE," added ETX Capital analyst Daniel Sugarman.

"Tullow Oil, always sensitive to oil fluctuations, is currently up, as are both BP and Royal Dutch Shell."

In London, Tullow Oil stock added 1.46 percent to 430.40 pence, while BP gained 1.39 percent to 418.72 pence and Shell's 'B' share price added 2.17 percent to 2,270.79 pence.

French oil and gas giant Total was the biggest winner on the CAC index in Paris. Shares were 2.57 percent higher at 43.96 euros.

Rising oil prices lift the energy sector because they boost company profits.

Trading volumes meanwhile remained low with many investors away from their desks for the traditional Christmas and New Year holiday shutdown.

The Frankfurt stock market closes for Christmas after the close on Tuesday, while London and Paris will shut down at lunchtime on Wednesday.

- Focus 'remains on oil' -

"As we head towards the Christmas break and a short week, the main focus going forward is likely to remain on the recent volatility in the oil price, particularly if we get a fresh bout of selling pressure," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

He added there were widespread concerns that further oil-market declines "could prompt instability in oil producing countries like Venezuela, Angola, Nigeria and Ecuador, and of course not forgetting Russia, as these countries struggle to balance their books, against a weakening currency, and a much weaker oil price".

Elsewhere, Asian equities also rose in thin trade Monday amid the festive season, tracking cues from Wall Street where stocks had also surged in a Fed-fuelled "Santa Claus rally" last week.

Sydney soared 1.94 percent, Seoul gained 0.68 percent, Hong Kong climbed 1.26 percent and Shanghai was up 0.61 percent, while Tokyo closed flat.

In Monday deals on the London Bullion Market, gold firmed to $1,196.32 per ounce from $1,195.50 on Friday.

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