Global stocks, dollar up as central banks accommodative
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares, the dollar and crude oil all rallied sharply on Thursday, with the benchmark S&P 500 stock index closing above 1,700 for the first time, as central banks in the euro zone and Britain joined the Federal Reserve in keeping easy monetary policies intact.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of England both ended policy meetings by leaving interest rates at record lows, a day after the Fed said the U.S. economy still needed its support and avoided any mention of a change to its stimulus measures.
The promise of abundant liquidity came as data showed U.S. manufacturing picked up sharply in July, with one measure pointing to the highest growth in two years. The U.S. data echoed reports showing euro zone industrial activity picking up for the first time in two years, greater stability in China's factory sector and a surge in British production.
"Bottom line, it's still free money everywhere - whether it is in the U.S., the Bank of England, the ECB - they are all saying the same thing and everyone is kind of loving it," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 128.48 points, or 0.83 percent, at 15,628.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 21.14 points, or 1.25 percent, at 1,706.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 49.37 points, or 1.36 percent, at 3,675.74.
The better outlook encouraged investors back into riskier assets, lifting MSCI's world equity index 1 percent and sending U.S. crude up 2.5 percent to $107.70 a barrel.
The spate of good news increased optimism that Friday's July U.S. payrolls report will show another solid rise in employment.
However, traders said a strong jobs report would increase the likelihood the Fed could begin scaling back its stimulus in September - a move that could hurt the gains in equities and commodities, although it would support the dollar.
"(Friday's) jobs number and unemployment remains to be seen," said Stephen J. Carl, head equity trader at The Williams Capital Group. "Any surprise could lead to a possible change in sentiment."
But on Thursday, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of major currencies, gained 1.1 percent to 82.341. Though still not far from a six-week low touched on Wednesday after the Fed's policy announcement, the dollar jumped as investors took the data as a sign of steady improvement in the U.S. economy.
Employment outside the farming sector is forecast to rise by 184,000 in July, according to economists polled by Reuters.
The euro slipped 0.7 percent to trade at $1.3207, off Wednesday's six-week high of $1.3344. The dollar rose 1.6 percent against the yen.
The encouraging China manufacturing data, along with some strong corporate earnings and the central bank actions, combined to lift European shares 1.1 percent.
Earlier, after the improvement in China's official industrial activity survey eased concerns of a sharp slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, Japan's Nikkei jumped 2.5 percent for its biggest one-day gain in three weeks.
In fixed income markets, U.S. Treasuries prices extended losses after the Institute for Supply Management's factory report. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was down 31/32, sending its yield to 2.7041 percent.
German Bund futures fell 0.1 percent to 142.26.
Spot gold fell 0.9 percent to $1,322.49 an ounce after the U.S. data sent the dollar higher.
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