(Updates trading, changes comment, dateline; previous LONDON)
* European shares at 20-month high after upbeat data, earnings
* Copper hits four-month low
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, May 4 (Reuters) - Crude oil prices continued to fall on Thursday, erasing the gains made since a production cut deal last November, while the euro strengthened against the U.S. dollar as a pro-European Union centrist looked set to win the French presidency.
Corporate results boosted European stocks to fresh 20-month highs, while losses in energy shares and gains in consumer stocks kept Wall Street little changed.
Bets on the U.S. Federal Reserve raising rates next month rose to a 74 percent chance from 71 percent Wednesday, with help from data showing new applications for jobless benefits fell last week and the number of Americans on unemployment rolls hit a 17-year low.
In a statement after a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, the Fed downplayed recent weak economic data and said consumer spending remained solid, business investment had firmed and inflation was close to its target.
“The economic data waxes and wanes and there’s clearly a seasonal adjustment in the first quarter from which we see a bounce back,” said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management in Washington, agreeing with the Fed’s diagnosis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 21.25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,936.65, the S&P 500 gained 0.64 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,388.77 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.94 points, or 0.05 percent, to 6,075.49.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.67 percent to its highest since November 2015 and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.11 percent.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.63 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.36 percent lower, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.70 percent.
Oil fell to its lowest since late November as concern over rising supply and high inventories wiped out most of the gains made since OPEC announced its first supply cut in eight years.
U.S. crude fell 4.41 percent to $45.71 per barrel and Brent was at $48.66, down 4.19 percent on the day.
The euro hit its highest in about six months against the U.S. dollar after centrist Emmanuel Macron consolidated his position to win France’s presidential race against anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen. Beyond Sunday’s vote, traders looked at the potential for the European Central Bank to signal further reduction in bond-buying.
The dollar index fell 0.33 percent, with the euro up 0.76 percent at $1.0965.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.03 percent versus the greenback to 112.73 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.2913, up 0.39 percent on the day.
Copper prices slid to four-month lows, following their biggest one-day drop in 20 months, on rising inventories and worries over cooling demand. Copper lost 1.04 percent to $5,542.00 a tonne.
Spot gold dropped 0.8 percent to $1,227.80 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 1.63 percent to $1,228.20 an ounce.
U.S. Treasury yields rose on the jobs data and bets on the Fed’s next move.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 16/32 in price to yield 2.3649 percent, from 2.309 percent late on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru, Amanda Cooper in London and Karen Brettell and Sam Forgione in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum