* Economic data bolsters stocks, weighs on safe-haven U.S.
* U.S. jobless claims drop, China, Europe PMIs positive for
* Stocks sidestep Apple revenue disappointment
* Yen resumes months-long weakening against dollar, euro
By Ellen Freilich
NEW YORK, Jan 24 World stock and commodity
markets rose on Thursday on encouraging economic data, while
U.S. stocks extended a six-day rally, sailing through the
headwind of a revenue miss from Apple.
The yen resumed its drop and oil rose.
Business surveys showed growth in Chinese manufacturing
accelerated to a two-year high in January and a buoyant Germany
was leading the euro zone toward recovery. But they also
revealed France was sliding back into recession.
The broad S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrials stock market
indices both advanced. The Nasdaq composite index was lower, but
the entire loss - and more - was due to the drag from a 9.8
percent drop in the value of Apple.
MSCI's world equity index rose 0.33 percent,
while Europe's FTSE Eurofirst 300 index gained 0.27
In the United States, the Conference Board's Leading
Economic Index rose 0.5 percent to 93.9 last month, pointing to
improved U.S. growth ahead.
"Leading economic indicators rose, new jobless claims are at
the lowest level in many years, and Chinese manufacturing data
moved to a positive trajectory," said Quincy Krosby, market
strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, with more than $1
trillion in assets under management. "The Chinese data bodes
well for demand which translates into top line revenue growth.
If global demand goes up, it's good for U.S. equities."
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 77.37 points,
or 0.56 percent, at 13,856.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 3.82 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,498.63. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 8.22 points, or 0.26
percent, at 3,145.45.
Apple shares were down 10.3 percent at $461.
The stock market's continued strength and news that the
number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a
five-year low last week weighed on safe-haven U.S. debt.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 9/32 in
price; its yield rose to 1.86 percent, as investors moved funds
"It's a reach for return in the equities market," said Todd
Colvin, senior vice president of global institutional sales with
R.J. O'Brien & Associates in Chicago. "Risk takers are being
rewarded so far this year."
For the euro zone as whole, January's flash euro zone
purchasing managers index pointed to more weakness ahead for a
region already mired in recession. But it also pointed to
improvement later in the year.
"The pace of recession is clearly easing," said Marco Valli,
chief euro zone economist at UniCredit.
The data showed the contrasting fortunes of Germany and
France, with German activity at its strongest levels in a year
and the French PMI at its lowest level since March 2009.
"The current gap between the German and French composite PMI
indices is unprecedented," said Ken Wattret, chief euro zone
economist at BNP Paribas.
That gap helped lift German bond prices to a three-week
high, a move supported by Spanish data showing another record
high unemployment rate and a rising tide of bad bank loans.
French bonds were seemingly unaffected by the data, with the
10-year bond yield 3 basis points lower on the day at 2.17
Investors in British stocks shrugged off worries about
Europe and focused on the better Chinese manufacturing data and
its implications for mining companies. That
pushed London's FTSE 100 up 1.09 percent.
The growing confidence in the pace of China's economic
recovery helped keep Brent crude oil above $113 a barrel
and copper rose to $8,115 a tonne. Gold was priced at
$1,672.36 an ounce.
In the currency markets, the yen posted steep losses
across the board after three days of gains, hurt by Japan's
record trade deficit and comments from a Japanese economic
official saying the government has no problem with the dollar
hitting 100 yen.
Traders cited reports quoting Deputy Economy Minister
Yasutoshi Nishimura as saying the yen's decline is not
over and a dollar/yen level of 100 would not be a concern.
"(Nishimura) represents another official voice favoring
further yen weakness and the remarks probably supported the
latest bounce in dollar/yen, which began overnight," said Bob
Lynch, chief currency strategist at HSBC in New York.
The dollar was last up 1.59 percent at 90.00 yen,
rallying from a one-week low of 88.06 yen hit the previous day.
The yen's weakness became further entrenched after Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe said he expected the Bank of Japan to
achieve its 2 percent inflation goal as soon as possible.
Earlier this week, the BoJ delivered its most aggressive
policy easing yet to snap the economy out of years of
The euro rose 0.4 percent against the dollar at
$1.3372, not far from an 11-month high hit on Jan. 14. The euro
was up 1.6 percent against the yen at 119.92 yen.
Analysts said an influential German Ifo survey due on
Friday, along with an announcement on bank plans to repay loans
taken from the European Central Bank a year ago, would sway the
euro in the coming days.