London - Global stocks rose on Thursday lifted by upbeat earnings from tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook which helped shake off some of the concerns about overheating that have dented the sector in recent weeks.
Wall Street and particularly the Nasdaq were expected to start brightly when trading restarts on what will be another full day of company earnings made even busier by a liberal helping of unemployment and durable goods data.
European bourses were also performing strongly, with more M&A activity and reassuring economic data helping to lift the FTSE 100 0.7 percent to its highest in six weeks and the DAX and the CAC 40 in Frankfurt and Paris 0.7 and 1 percent.
The gains were boosted by the region's tech stocks and came after iPhone and computer maker Apple reported record first quarter sales after hours on Wednesday and laid out plans for a $30 billion share buy back and seven-for-one stock split.
Its shares jumped almost 8 percent to $566.50, the highest since December, adding roughly $35 billion to its market worth. Facebook shares jumped 3.7 percent as the social networking company topped Wall Street's expectations.
“The tech news from Apple and Facebook has given a lot of energy to markets,” said Chris Beauchamp, a market strategist at IG Index. “(European) company news has been generally better today so I think their is lot more reason to be positive... and (ECB President) Mario Draghi hasn't said anything to spook investors on the euro either.”
Draghi reiterated that the ECB was prepared to embark on what he called a “broad-based asset purchase programme” if low inflation become entrenched. There was also more discussion about the problem of the euro's strength. [ID:nL6N0NG2QJ ]
The currency dipped after the comments but the move quickly ran out of steam and it was back to be little changed on the day at $1.3819 as U.S. trading gathered momentum.
French and German sentiment surveys both came out with more-or-less steady readings on Thursday bolstering signs of economic recovery.
The currency was also underpinned as the amount of “excess” cash at banks dropped below 100 billion euro - a level that could start to see market borrowing costs rise - for first time since 2011.
With risk appetite revived, euro zone government bonds took a breather after their recent strong run while emerging market currencies were broadly back in favour.
In commodity markets, oil prices recouped some of the losses suffered after U.S. crude inventories hit a record high, with the crisis in Ukraine keeping a floor under the market.
Ukrainian forces killed up to five pro-Moscow separatists in the east of the country, the Interior Ministry said, as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of “consequences” if Kiev used the army against its own people.
The comment came as U.S. President Barack Obama said that more sanctions were “teed up” against Russia if it does not deliver on promises in an agreement in Geneva last week to ease the tensions.
Brent crude for June delivery added 25 cents to $109.36 a barrel, while U.S. crude gained 32 cents to $101.72.
Gold edged back to $1,270.50 an ounce as it slipped to a fresh 2-1/2 month low.
Earlier, Asian markets managed only a subdued response to the upbeat Apple and Facebook sentiment, as the normal fillip from positive tech news failed to materialise.
The Nikkei slipped 0.97 percent with some investors apparently disappointed that a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama made no concrete progress on a trade deal.
Markets were mixed elsewhere across the region with Singapore up 0.5 percent, but Shanghai off 0.3 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged ahead by a tenth of a percent.
The main mover in currencies was the New Zealand dollar, which hopped higher after the country's central bank raised interest rates by a quarter point to 3 percent and signalled more tightening to come.
The kiwi gained around a third of a cent to $0.8623 before cooling to $0.8565.