Earnings outlook lifts equities

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Bullsandbears

REUTERS

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New York - Global equity markets rose on Wednesday after better-than-expected corporate results boosted sentiment on the outlook for first-quarter earnings, while the dollar gained on optimism the US economy will show growth as it sloughs off the effects of a bitter winter.

The greenback's bounce was the first in four days.

Investors awaited the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting to be released later Wednesday.

They are likely to show that members of the Federal Open Market Committee generally agreed on tapering the Fed's bond-buying program.

US stocks rose for a second session, buoyed after Alcoa late Tuesday reported quarterly results that topped analysts' expectations, even though the company's adjusted profit fell due to declining aluminum prices.

Shares of Alcoa gained 3.5 percent to $12.97 and at one point were the best performer among components of the benchmark S&P 500 index.

Alcoa has long been the first S&P 500 company to report results each quarter, and since aluminum is used by some key industries, including the automotive, aerospace and construction sectors, some see it as a bellwether for the earnings season.

Earnings for companies in the S&P 500 are projected to have increased just 1 percent from last year's first quarter, Thomson Reuters data showed.

The forecast is down sharply from the start of the year, when profit growth was estimated at 6.5 percent.

“These kinds of consolidation rallies really take time to shake out the emotion that goes with both sides,” said Rick Meckler, president of hedge fund LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“Earnings will really help give this market some forward direction, but they are in front of us and haven't really hit yet,” he said.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares closed up 0.36 percent at 1,338.12, while MSCI's all-country equity index rose 0.28 percent.

Gains in Europe were led by automakers, although some traders said caution ahead of the European earnings season could curb near-term progress.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 81.21 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,337.35.

The S&P 500 gained 7.65 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,859.61 and the Nasdaq Composite added 36.557 points, or 0.89 percent, to 4,149.543.

The dollar rebounded from one of its worst performances against the yen as the outlook for the greenback brightened on expectations for stronger economic data.

The dollar posted its largest one-day fall versus the yen in more than seven months on Tuesday as investors bought back the Japanese currency after the Bank of Japan held off on additional monetary easing.

“Our view going into 2014 is broad-based dollar rally predicated on the acceleration of the US economy and rising US rates,” said Mark McCormick, currency strategist at Credit Agricole in New York.

After hitting lows of 101.52 yen in US trade on Tuesday, the dollar recovered to trade 0.2 percent higher at 101.99.

The euro was up 0.27 percent against the yen at 140.80.

Against the dollar, the euro was up 0.09 percent at $1.3806.

US Treasuries prices fell as traders trimmed their bond holdings in advance of a $21 billion auction of 10-year notes and the Federal Reserve's release of the record of its policy meeting last month.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was down 10/32 in price to yield 2.7170 percent.

“Treasuries have had a good run. There's some risk with this week's supply,” said Robert Tipp, chief investment strategist at Prudential Fixed Income in Newark, New Jersey.

Brent crude rose toward $108 a barrel as rising tension between Russia and Ukraine overshadowed the bearish impact of a substantial rise in crude oil stockpiles in the United States.

While the Ukraine crisis may not directly impact global oil supplies and trade, the risk premium on oil is rising as investors worry the Kremlin's stand-off with the West could quickly take a turn for the worse.

Brent crude rose 15 cents to $107.82 a barrel.

US oil rose 83 cents to $103.39. - Reuters


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