GLOBAL MARKETS-Equities, yen climb, crude near 4-month high

Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:33pm GMT

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

* S&P at 5-year high after five straight winning sessions

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

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

* U.S. crude oil futures near highest level in four months

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.

In foreign exchange markets, the yen rose against the U.S. dollar for a second day. The yen had weakened against the dollar for several months as investors adjusted to prospective monetary accommodation from the Bank of Japan.

On Monday the BOJ raised its inflation target to 2.0 percent and but promised to buy assets only in 2014, disappointing the market.

Spot gold traded near a one-month high at $1,692.16 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.

The same development was said to be holding safe-haven U.S. debt prices in check. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was up 7/32, its yield easing to 1.8188 percent, comfortably within its recent range.

Congressional talks on raising the U.S. debt ceiling talks, 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.

Investors' attraction to stocks also damped their appetite for safe-haven U.S. debt.

Recent upbeat data from China and the United States and monetary easing in Japan have helped spur rallies in equities.

"We think enough has been done to sow the seeds of a gradual economic recovery this year, which will gain pace next year," said Nick Kounis, head of macro economic research at ABN AMRO.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 58.45 points, or 0.43 percent, at 13,770.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.75 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,491.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 11.59 points, or 0.37 percent, at 3,154.77.

Overall, of the 13 percent of companies on the S&P 500 index that have reported results so far, 75 percent have met or beaten forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.

The MSCI index of global markets was off 0.17 percent. But Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.13 percent near a 22-month high on Wednesday. Germany's DAX , which is close to its 2008 high, was up 0.6 percent, and Britain's FTSE 100 index gained 0.16 percent, having briefly reached a 2013 peak.

DEBT DEMAND

The European debt markets were still basking in the glow of Tuesday's strong 10-year bond sale by Spain, which was swamped with demand from foreign investors. Portugal is expected to return to the debt market this week for the first time since its 2011 bailout.

Prices have risen across the euro zone debt market this month as foreign investors returned, reassured by the European Central Bank's policies to support the region and a strong desire for higher-yielding assets.

The dollar fell 0.2 percent to 88.52 yen, off a 2-1/2 year high of 90.25 yen on Monday, while the euro was steadier against the Japanese unit at 118.25 yen.

The euro was up 0.2 percent against the dollar to $1.3342, near last week's 11-month high of $1.3404 after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said "the darkest clouds over the euro area subsided" in 2012.

Oil prices were mostly steady as investors awaited inventory data from the United States for clues to demand in the world's largest oil consumer.

Brent crude rose 5 cents t0 $112.47 a barrel while U.S. crude for March fell 10 cents at $96.58, off a four-month high of $96.90 hit earlier.

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 0.09 percent at $8,126 a tonne .

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