London - Equities rose on Thursday as markets took heart from minutes of the Federal Reserve's March meeting, which suggested US policymakers would be more cautious about raising interest rates than some had expected.
European investors also looked optimistically to Greece's return to the bond markets later on Thursday for further evidence that Europe's economic recovery is gathering pace, dampening the impact of gloomy Chinese exports data.
The MSCI All-Country World index rose 0.2 percent while the similar MSCI World Index, which only tracks stocks from developed economies, progressed by 0.3 percent.
In Europe the MSCI Europe climbed 0.6 percent while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares advanced 0.3 percent.
The MSCI Emerging Market index rose 0.8 percent.
The Fed minutes released on Wednesday fuelled a rally on Wall Street, where all three major US stock indexes ended up more than 1 percent.
Financial markets also pushed out expectations of a first Fed rate hike by about six weeks, to July 2015, trading in interest-rate futures showed.
“The Fed minutes suggested that the Fed committee was not as hawkish as some had been led to perceive,” said Hantec Markets analyst Richard Perry.
The dollar traded flat against a basket of six major currencies.
SUPPORTIVE BACKDROP FOR GREECE
Investors said that the tone of the Fed's minutes was likely to set up a supportive backdrop for Greece's return to the bond market just two years after it defaulted.
Athens is launching a five-year benchmark bond via a syndicate of banks, and investor interest had already totalled 11 billion euros ($15.21 billion) on Wednesday.
Brent crude futures eased towards $107 a barrel on Thursday on the back of the weak China trade data while gold scaled fresh two-week highs.
Hampstead Capital hedge fund manager Lex van Dam said equities remained his preferred asset class, still buoyed by the efforts of the Fed and other major central banks to support economic growth and keep interest rates low.
“This does continue to make me believe that equities are the best play in town,” said van Dam. - Reuters