GLOBAL MARKETS-Fed leaves stimulus in place; euro and gold up

Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:14pm GMT

* Fed says growth pause largely temporary
    * Financial markets strains ease, business investment up
    * U.S. stocks pull back after strong recent gains
    * Oil higher on outlook for China

    NEW YORK, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The euro climbed to a 14-month
high and gold rallied on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve
left its monthly $85 billion bond-buying stimulus plan in place.
    U.S. stocks pulled back after the Fed announcement but
investors said that was more a reaction to gains in recent
months. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index is on track to post its
best month since October 2011 and its best January since 1997.
    The Fed said economic growth had stalled but indicated the
pullback was likely temporary, describing the nation's job
market as continuing its modest pace of improvement. It repeated
a pledge to keep purchasing securities until the outlook for
employment improves substantially..
    A report earlier in the day showing the U.S. economy
contracted in the fourth quarter had already bolstered
expectations the Fed would continue its easy monetary policy.
    GDP  data, which showed the world's largest economy in the
fourth quarter unexpectedly suffered its first decline since the
2007-09 recession, supported that expectation. Gross domestic
product fell at a 0.1 percent annual rate after growing at a 3.1
percent clip in the third quarter.
    "There is nothing obvious in the FOMC text that is going to
result in a change in key market trends," Alan Ruskin, head of
G10 FX strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York, said in reference
to the Fed policy committee's statement.
    The euro was last at $1.3563, after climbing above
1.35 for the first time since December 2011. Spot gold
prices up $12.01, or 0.72 percent, to  $1675.40.
    Easy U.S. monetary policy adds to the attractiveness of the
euro compared with the dollar. In recent years investors would
buy the dollar as a safer haven on bad economic data, but at
least on Wednesday, they saw the euro as a better bet. 
    Gold rose on the poor GDP data and added to gains as it
became cheaper for investors using currencies other than the
dollar to buy. 
    The U.S. GDP data also overshadowed a third straight rise in
European economic confidence, an increase in European Central
Bank crisis loan repayments and a solid sale of five- and
10-year Italian bonds, which provided fresh evidence of the
recent improvement in the region. 

    CONFIDENCE RALLY
    The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was
unchanged, the yield at 1.9992 percent.
    "The unemployment rate is likely to fall below 6.5 percent 
next year, so the Fed may be raising interest rates as soon as
mid-2014," said Kurt Karl, chief economist at Swiss Re, after
the Fed statement. "The fiscal drag from the tax increases will
be offset this quarter by rebuilding post-Sandy, so real GDP
growth should still come in at 2 percent."
    Bund futures had already fallen to session lows, with
investors taking the view that the contraction in the U.S.
economy was not going to have significant impact on the Fed's
policy moves. Bund futures fell as low as 141.36, down
46 ticks on the day.
     The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 44.00
points, or 0.32 percent, at 13,910.42. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 5.88 points, or 0.39 percent, at 1,501.96.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 11.35 points, or
0.36 percent, at 3,142.31. 
    "This is a very modest pullback after a steep run," said
Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation at ING Investment
Management in New York. "It is too soon for the Fed to start
talking about the end of (their bond buying program); the
economy needs stimulus to sustain this recovery."
    European shares suffered their biggest daily drop this
month, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 off 0.6
percent, although a rise in Asian shares earlier in the global
day kept the MSCI world share index near its
highest since May 2011. 
    China's promising economic growth forecast for 2013 raised
expectations for robust demand for fuel and industrial
commodities, underpinning oil prices.  
    Brent crude oil reached its highest level in three and a
half months as it passed $115 a barrel. It last traded at
$115.06. U.S. light sweet crude oil rose 44 cents, or
0.45 percent, to  $98.01 per barrel.