* Surge in Chinese exports spurs optimism on global growth
* Euro firm after ECB holds rates, strong Spanish debt sale
* German debt yields rise as Draghi hints no imminent rate
* Oil gains on China demand, Saudi output cuts
By Richard Leong
NEW YORK, Jan 10 World stock prices rose to an
eight-month high on Thursday and oil prices climbed as news of
stronger-than-expected Chinese exports raised hopes of a more
robust recovery for the global economy this year.
The euro rose on reduced anxiety about the euro zone economy
after the European Central Bank unanimously left interest rates
unchanged and ECB President Mario Draghi offered no hints that
more policy easing will be coming soon.
While the euro zone has been treading water due to a
festering debt crisis and a sluggish global economy, Draghi said
at a news conference after the ECB rate meeting, "Later in 2013,
economic activity should gradually recover."
The ECB's policy restraint spurred selling in safe-haven
German government debt and stoked bids for gold.
"The market's more positive and it owes a lot of that to the
Chinese economic data," said Art Hogan, managing director of
Lazard Capital Markets in New York, adding that the success of a
Spanish bond auction also helped.
Spain's first debt sale of 2013 raised more money than
expected at a lower borrowing cost than in a previous auction,
sending benchmark Spanish bond yields to 10-month lows.
The combination of an improved global economic outlook and
reduced worries about Spain's ability to finance its deficit
supported bids for world shares for a second day, but lingering
worries about poor corporate earnings and the debt ceiling fight
in Washington left traders reticent to push stock prices higher,
MSCI's broad world equity index was 0.6
percent higher at 349.03, its highest level since May.
Wall Street stocks struggled to set fresh five-year highs
after opening stronger. The Dow Jones industrial average
was up 18.43 points, or 0.14 percent, at 13,408.94. The Standard
& Poor's 500 Index was up 3.00 points, or 0.21 percent,
at 1,464.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.07
points, or 0.10 percent, at 3,102.74.
U.S.-traded shares of Nokia jumped 18.4 percent to
$4.44 after the Finnish handset maker said its fourth-quarter
results were better than expected.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index flirted
with a near two-year high before turning lower in late European
trading on comments from Swatch CEO Nick Hayek who
expected slower growth in Swiss watch exports in 2013. The index
closed down 0.29 percent at 1,164.65 after touching 1,170.29.
CHINA DATA RAISE HOPES
China surprised most observers by reporting its exports
rebounded sharply in December to a seven-month high, with
imports growing at double the expected rate. However, the data
showed demand for Chinese goods in the United States and Europe
A broad measure of Chinese credit growth was also found to
have risen strongly, making it likely that the economy will be
shown to have expanded by around 7.8 percent in 2012 when
fourth-quarter GDP data come out next week.
China's GDP growth touched a 3-1/2-year low of 7.4 percent
between July and September last year.
The strength of imports revealed in the data stoked hopes of
greater demand for commodities, lifting copper and oil prices.
"Risk is back on after the China data," said Carsten
Fritsch, senior oil analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
"General market sentiment is much more positive, with hopes of
better growth pushing up most markets."
News of a big 700,000 barrels-per-day cut in oil production
over the last two months of last year by Saudi Arabia, the
world's largest oil exporter, added to gains in oil prices.
Brent crude prices climbed a 12-week high of $113.29 a
barrel before subsiding to $112.31, up 55 cents from
U.S. crude futures rose 98 cents or 1 percent to
$94.08 a barrel, while London copper was 0.56 percent
higher at $8,125 a tonne.
In the currency market, the euro gained an extra boost after
Spain's debt auction raised 5.8 billion euros.
Most of the demand was for a bond maturing in 2015 that
would be covered by an ECB bond-buying program if Spain were to
apply for international aid, though the success of the auction
has probably delayed the timing of any request.
The euro rose 1.2 percent at $1.3212, while yields on
10-year Spanish bonds fell to a 10-month low of 4.908 percent
Meanwhile, the yield on German 10-year government debt
was little changed on the day at 1.562 percent after
touching 1.57 percent, its highest level since late October.