Markets brush off US tech sell-off; oil up ahead of OPEC

By JOE McDONALD Markets Associated Press

European stock markets proved robust Thursday despite the previous day's sell-off in U.S. tech stocks fell, with investors readying for a key OPEC meeting. Oil prices were higher ahead of an expected decision by the OPEC oil cartel to extend production cuts.

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KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent to 13,154 while London's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 to 7,411. France's CAC 40 advanced 0.4 percent to 5,418.22. U.S. stocks were poised for a solid opening too, with Dow futures and the S&P 500 futures up 0.3 percent.

ANALYST TAKE: "With U.S. indices trading around record highs it seems investors are currently willing to shrug off Wednesday's declines some of the biggest tech names, putting it down to profit taking rather than a sign of any underlying concerns given the already extended levels," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

OPEC: Key OPEC oil ministers expressed preference for extending crude output cuts until the end of next year. A year ago, OPEC backed the cuts in order to get prices higher, a strategy that has clearly worked. Benchmark crude prices are now close to $60 a barrel, up almost 20 percent since a year ago, when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their non-OPEC partners agreed to reduce supply by a daily 1.8 million barrels to push up prices. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 30 cents to $57.60 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 75 cents to $63.86 in London.

QUOTE: "Expectations are high that the current cuts, which are due to end in March 2018, will be extended until the end of next year but whether this will be enough to drive oil higher still remains to be seen," said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB. "Speculative positioning in the market is at extremely high levels historically speaking and there is a very real possibility that if anything less than a favorable outcome occurs in Vienna this afternoon then there could be a large swoon in the market."

CHINA MANUFACTURING: A monthly survey showed Chinese manufacturing activity improved in November, adding to signs of a pickup in global and domestic demand. The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers' index rose to 52.4 from October's 51.6 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity accelerating. Components of the survey that measure imports, exports and new orders all improved, while the indicator for employment weakened. "The breakdown shows a broad-based pickup in demand," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

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ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Exchange lost 0.6 percent to 3,317.18 while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent to 22,724.96. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gave up 1.5 percent to 29,177.35 and Seoul's Kospi fell 1.4 percent to 2,476.37. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 declined 0.7 percent to 5,969.90 and India's Sensex lost 1.4 percent to 33,135.48.

CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.1838 while the dollar rose 0.4 percent to 112.34 yen.