GLOBAL MARKETS-Equities up on company earnings, yen climbs

Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:59pm GMT

Quotes

   

* U.S. stocks advance, techs up before Apple results after close

* IBM up on earnings, outlook; S&P 500 index lingers at 5-year high

* Yen extends gain against dollar; BoJ action seen lacking urgency

* Gold slips as U.S. debt talks make progress

By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - U.S. and European stocks moved higher on Wednesday, helped by strong earnings reports and signs American lawmakers were close to raising the federal debt limit.

Technology shares were a focus, with Apple earnings due late in the day, following strong results from IBM and Google on Tuesday.

Shares of IBM, the world's largest technology services company, propelled the Dow Jones industrial index higher, rising 5.1 percent after the company outlined a better-than-forecast outlook for 2013 and posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and revenue.

"The earnings season so far has been good with a majority of companies reporting better-than-expected results," said Brian Gendreau, market strategist at Gainesville, Fla.-based Cetera Financial Group, with $20 billion in assets under management.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 53.99 points, or 0.39 percent, at 13,766.20. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.20 point, or 0.01 percent, at 1,492.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 8.85 points, or 0.28 percent, at 3,152.03.

The MSCI index of global markets was off 0.13 percent. But Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.2 percent, near a 22-month high on Wednesday. Germany's DAX , which is close to its 2008 high, was up 0.15 percent, and Britain's FTSE 100 index gained 0.3 percent, having briefly reached a 2013 peak.

Some of the money shifting into stocks came from Treasuries whose low yields lack appeal to investors, Gendreau said.

Nevertheless, Treasuries made slim gains with the benchmark 10-year note up 4/32 in price, its yield at 1.83 percent.

"There's still a tsunami of money coming into the Treasury market from foreign central banks and the Federal Reserve," Gendrau said.

In foreign exchange markets, the yen rose against the dollar and euro, still reacting to Bank of Japan monetary easing at the start of the week, which fell short of expectations.

The yen had weakened against the dollar for two months as investors priced in prospective monetary accommodation from the Bank of Japan. Over the last three days it has risen 1.9 percent versus the dollar, the biggest three-day gain in seven months, but it still is down 11 percent from its mid-November levels.

The BoJ this week lifted its inflation target to 2 percent and promised to buy assets. But the starting date for the purchases, not before 2014, disappointed investors who had expected the central bank to act with greater urgency.

The dollar fell 0.1 percent to 88.58 yen, off a 2-1/2-year high of 90.25 yen on Monday.

The euro drifted higher against the dollar as sentiment toward euro zone assets improved and investors got ready for euro area banks to repay part of the loans they took from the European Central Bank last year.

Investors' improved view of the euro zone was evident in a comeback for Portugal's bond market. On Wednesday, Portugal's first bond sale since its 2011 rescue drew strong demand, bolstering hopes the country can make a full market return that would allow it to call on further European Central Bank support.

Tuesday's 10-year bond sale by Spain was swamped with demand from foreign investors.

The euro slipped against the yen to 118.05 yen. Against the dollar, it rose 0.1 percent to $1.3333, in sight of last week's 11-month high of $1.3404.

Gold fell further from this week's one-month high after a report showing a rise in euro zone consumer confidence capped investors' interest in the metal.

Spot gold fell 0.2 percent to $1,688 an ounce. Traders said progress in talks about the U.S. debt limit reduced gold's appeal as a safe haven, offsetting the influence of this week's monetary easing promise from the Bank of Japan.

Congressional talks on raising the U.S. debt ceiling, seen as a potential threat to recovery of the world's leading economy, have made some progress. The House of Representatives plans to pass a bill on a nearly four-month extension of the borrowing limit.

Brent crude futures edged up and U.S. crude dipped on Wednesday. Improved British employment data lent support, while a lower economic growth forecast from the IMF limited gains.

The IMF trimmed its 2013 global growth forecast to 3.5 percent from the 3.6 percent it projected in October, but said it looked for 4.1 percent expansion in 2014.

Brent March crude was up 39 cents at $112.81 a barrel. U.S. March crude was down 29 cents at $96.39.

Oil investors awaited weekly reports on U.S. oil inventories delayed a day by Monday's U.S. holiday. The American Petroleum Institute's report is due at 4:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) on Wednesday and the U.S. Energy Information Administration's report follows at 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) on Thursday.

The data is expected to show builds in U.S. crude, gasoline and distillate inventories, according to a Reuters poll of analysts on Monday.

Copper was barely changed despite higher output reported by mining groups such as BHP Billiton. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was down 0.45 percent at $8,096 a tonne .