GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares gain on strong data; yen soars

Fri Feb 8, 2013 4:57pm GMT

* World shares rise as U.S., Chinese trade data beats forecasts

* Yen gains sharply, Draghi's comments weigh on euro

* Oil rises toward $119 a barrel on China data, Mideast tensions

By Herbert Lash and Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Strong economic data lifted global equity markets and drove the S&P 500 to a five-year high on Friday, while the yen jumped after Japan's finance minister said the currency's recent drop had gone too far, too fast.

Brent crude oil rose to a nine-month high near $119 a barrel and copper prices advanced for the first time in four days as the robust Chinese data signaled improving global growth prospects and boosted the outlook for commodities demand.

China's exports and imports surged and new lending soared in January, while German data showed a 2012 surplus that was the nation's second-highest in more than 60 years, an indication of the underlying strength of Europe's biggest economy.

A report showing the U.S. trade gap fell to its narrowest in nearly three years in December helped support stock and commodity markets. The narrower trade gap suggested the U.S. economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.

Wall street stocks edged higher, but gains were checked as investors awaited strong catalysts to push the market up more.

"We are going to have this churn and this consolidation, which actually isn't a bad thing - it's actually good the market isn't being so volatile and is actually consolidating because it is building a base," said Ken Polcari, Director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 49.59 points, or 0.36 percent, at 13,993.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 7.54 points, or 0.50 percent, at 1,516.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 28.66 points, or 0.91 percent, at 3,193.80.

MSCI's all-country world equity index rose 0.4 percent to 355.49, while shares in Europe rebounded nearly 1.2 percent after a fall on Thursday wiped out the year's gains.

The yen, which fell to its low against the euro since April 2010 and the lowest against the dollar since May 2010 on Wednesday, got a boost from Finance Minister Taro Aso's comments that the currency's slide from 78 to 90 per dollar was steeper than intended.

Doubts also rose on whether the next governor of the Bank of Japan will ease policy aggressively after a Reuters report said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces opposition from within his own cabinet and financial bureaucrats to appoint a new BoJ governor who will pursue aggressive easing policies.

The dollar fell 1 percent against the yen to 92.66 yen . The euro lost 1.1 percent to 124.01 yen.

Against the dollar, the euro slipped 0.1 percent to $1.3379 .

Comments from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi on Thursday that the exchange rate is important for growth and price stability were perceived by investors as a sign the bank is concerned about the euro's recent advance and weighed on the currency.

"Central bank and government officials from around the world have given FX markets the gift of volatility this year," said Win Thin, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

"Yesterday, it was ECB President Draghi's second press conference in a row that caught markets by surprise. Today, it was Japan Finance Minister Aso's turn, as he apparently told reporters that the recent pace of yen weakness has been too fast."

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 3/32, the yield at 1.9679 percent. Prices erased some of Thursday's gains after stocks jumped and as investors prepared for $72 billion in new supply next week.

Brent gained $1.87 to $119.09 a barrel, and U.S. crude futures rose 46 cents to $96.29.

"Global oil demand has surprised to the upside in recent months, consistent with the pick-up in economic activity," Goldman Sachs analysts said in a research note.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was $8,245 a tonne after hitting a session high of $8,253.