Thursday, October 28, 2010

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks lifted by earnings; dollar slips

LONDON: Strong corporate earnings lifted global stocks on Thursday, Oct 28 while the dollar fell, paring recent gains, as uncertainty over how much monetary easing the Federal Reserve will opt for next week kept investors cautious.

Forecast-beating earnings, including from Royal Dutch Shell, and gains in mining and TECHNOLOGY [] stocks helped lift European shares 0.6 percent after doubts over the U.S. stimulus had pushed them to a two-week closing low on Wednesday.

Global stocks were higher, with the MSCI world equity index up 0.4 percent after falling on Wednesday. U.S. stock futures also pointed to a higher opening on Wall Street.

Investors awaited the latest weekly reading of U.S. unemployment at 1230 GMT for clues about the health of the world's largest economy before Wednesday's Fed decision.

"Sentiment seesaws between the positive corporate outlook in the short term ... and the dark macro environment with the potential for further storms ahead. Volatility continues to be the name of the game," said Henk Potts, equity strategist at Barclays Wealth.

Market participants have scaled back expectations for the extent of Fed QE likely next week in recent days, pushing the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields higher.

There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the Fed decision, however. The latest Reuters poll showed economists' estimates for how much money the Fed will print varied widely, from $250 billion to as high as $2 trillion.



The dollar index, which measures the dollar's value against a basket of major currencies, was down 0.7 percent at 77.630, with a short covering rally pausing as uncertainty over Fed easing left investors wary. The euro rose 0.6 percent, while the dollar fell nearly 0.5 percent versus the yen.

"Interest rate differentials had stopped moving against the dollar, but today the dollar is giving up a bit of those gains," said Marcus Hettinger, global currency strategist at Credit Suisse in Zurich.

"We're seeing some consolidation in the dollar before the Fed meeting as no one knows how much QE the Fed might do."

German bund futures started the day higher but pulled back to trade up 4 ticks at 128.85 after solid demand at an auction of Italian debt. Concerns about the health of some peripheral euro zone economies, however, widened the spreads between the bond yields of those countries and those of Germany.

Government talks with the opposition in Portugal over the budget broke down on Wednesday, while there were signs Ireland was preparing to cut public spending even further.

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields slipped from late U.S. trade, after reaching their highest since Sept. 20 on Wednesday.

Gold prices rose slightly to $1,329.00 an ounce, against $1,324.70 late in New York, helped by a weaker dollar.

U.S. crude oil gained 20 cents to $82.14 a barrel after falling nearly 1 percent on Wednesday.

Emerging stocks were up 0.3 percent.

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