May 15, 2013, 10.24 AM | Source: Reuters

US stocks power to record highs, dollar firm

US equities have risen the past three weeks, racking up a 14 percent gain so far this year on some better-than-expected company earnings and the Federal Reserve's ultra-easy monetary policy to support the economic recovery.

US stocks power to record highs, dollar firm
Wall Street stocks rose to record highs on Tuesday on hopes steady US growth will extend their stellar run, while the strengthening dollar curbed the appetite for oil and gold.

US equities have risen the past three weeks, racking up a 14 percent gain so far this year on some better-than-expected company earnings and the Federal Reserve's ultra-easy monetary policy to support the economic recovery.

Less worried investors resumed purchases of stocks and other higher-return assets and reduced their holdings of safe-haven U.S. and German government bonds. The rise in global interest rates was mitigated by a weaker-than-expected report on German investor sentiment due to the poor outlook on the region's economy.

"People realize the world is not melting down. Growth isn't surging either, but it's growth and the market is adapting to that," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

While worries about another spring "swoon" might have receded after the strong April US payrolls data, the outlook on worldwide economic growth remained lukewarm.

Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of PIMCO, which manages the world's largest bond mutual fund, said in the firm's outlook for the next three to five years that U.S. economic growth will not be "much greater" than 2 percent, while China will maintain growth in the range of 6 to 7.5 percent.

This modest view on the global economy, together with more energy output in North America, led the International Energy Agency to project a "more comfortable" energy picture over the next five years.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 90.56 points, or 0.60 percent, at 15,182.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 14.04 points, or 0.86 percent, at 1,647.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 22.79 points, or 0.66 percent, at 3,461.58.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index on Europe's top shares provisionally closed up 0.45 percent at 1,236.62, erasing early losses on the disappointing data from Germany's ZEW think tank report. It rose for a fourth straight session, just short of the near five-year intraday high set on Monday.

U.S. and European equity gains lifted the MSCI global index to 375.81, up 0.43 percent on the day. They more than offset a 0.16 percent drop of Toyko's Nikkei index.

As the Dow and S&P 500 index posted record intraday peaks, the dollar held steady versus a basket of major currencies, hovering near a five-week high. The greenback retested its 4-1/2-year high against the yen and last traded at 102.05 yen, up 0.2 percent on the day.

The dollar's rise was capped by a steady euro, which was last at USD 1.2977.

The dollar index was last up 0.1 percent at 83.377.

"We think against the yen the dollar can go higher, helped by rising US yields," said Marcus Hettinger, head of global forex research at Credit Suisse in London.

The yield on benchmark US 10-year Treasury notes rose to a seven-week high. The US 10-year yield was last 1.943 percent, up over 2 basis points on the day, while German Bund futures were down 27 basis points at 144.62.

US and German yields have risen in the wake of the Bank of Japan's USD 1.4 trillion stimulus programme, as investors pared their safehaven holdings of these debt instruments. This bold asset purchase scheme also caused some rethinking about global growth and interest rates among the world's major economies.

The dollar's run-up exerted further selling on gold and oil prices. A stronger dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities such as oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Brent crude oil edged down toward $102 per barrel as traders were caught between hopes of a revival in global economic growth and evidence of ample supply stocks from IEA, the West's energy watchdog.

Spot gold prices were on track for a fourth consecutive losing session as an earlier rebound faded with a rise in the dollar. The bullion was last 0.33 percent lower at 1,425.60 an ounce.


READ MORE ON  Wall Street, dollar, high, US growth


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