Global stocks tick higher to fresh records, euro retreats
NEW YORK - Stocks in major markets rose on Wednesday, building on Tuesday's record on the Dow industrials and supported by steady U.S. data, while the euro fell ahead of a European Central Bank meeting.
The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan are all expected to stick to easy monetary policies at meetings this week, following reassurances by U.S. Federal Reserve officials that their stimulus program remains in place.
U.S. data showing a steady manufacturing sector and gains in private employment, along with China's promise earlier this week of record government spending to help sustain growth, pushed major stock markets higher.
In morning trading in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 25.80 points, or 0.18 percent, at 14,279.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 0.37 points, or 0.02 percent, at 1,540.16. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 3.51 points, or 0.11 percent, at 3,220.62.
The Dow hit an intraday high and the broader S&P 500 was 1.5 percent away from its all-time closing record.
The pan-European ESTOXX 50 .STOXX50E was flat and the FTSEurofirst 300 slipped 0.1 percent. The MSCI world index .MIWD00000PUS was up 0.2 percent and just short of a new 4-3/4 year high.
EURO, TREASURIES WEAKEN
Better-than-expected U.S. jobs figures dented the allure of Treasuries ahead of the February payrolls report expected Friday.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 8/32, the yield at 1.9237 percent.
"I would not say we're headed toward a robust pace anytime soon, but I do think it's encouraging that the economy seems to be gathering a little more steam," said Russell T. Price, senior economist with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc in Troy, Michigan.
The euro fell against the U.S. dollar a day before an ECB policy-setting meeting, on bets the bank may flag future interest rate cuts.
"The focus is tomorrow's ECB meeting; where interest rates are expected to remain on hold at 0.75 percent, however there is wide debate about President (Mario) Draghi's tone during the press conference," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.
"We expect the ECB to ultimately turn more dovish, but that it occurs in April not tomorrow."
The euro was down 0.4 percent against the greenback at $1.2994.
As expected, official data confirmed the euro zone ended the year in its second recession since 2009. Eurostat fleshed out its numbers, showing Germany as the only major euro zone economy to grow in the quarter, though at a crawl, while France, Spain and Italy all contracted.
Areas of concern for the global economy remain, including the Chinese government's move to cool the country's overheated property market, the possible economic impact of U.S. spending cuts and the political deadlock in Italy.
Brent oil fell 0.9 percent, below $111 a barrel, while U.S. crude traded below $90 and near its 2013 low.
U.S. crude oil inventories rose more than forecast last week while distillates stocks fell more than expected as refinery utilization rates posted a surprise drop, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday. — Reuters