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Thursday 21:30 GMT. Global stocks rose, pushing the S&P 500 to fresh 5-year highs, as optimism about the US economy reinvigorated the new year global “risk” rally.
The FTSE All-World index rose 0.5 per cent as the FTSE Eurofirst turned an initial loss – partly the result of weakness in mining stocks – into a gain of 0.3 per cent. Wall Street’s S&P 500 closed 10 points higher at 1,482, its best level since December 2007.
But optimism may fade ahead of the start of Friday’s session in Asia as another batch of company results after the close on Wall Street was poorly received.
Capital One, American Express, and E-Trade Financial were among the companies reporting quarterly earnings after the closing bell. But investors’ focus was on chipmaker Intel, which forecast current-quarter revenue that was slightly below expectations. Shares in the company fell 2.1 per cent in extended trading.
But earlier in the session, other sentiment gauges delivered positive signals, with the dollar index slipping 0.2 per cent as the euro gained 0.7 per cent to $1.3379. In commodities, copper was up 1.5 per cent to $3.65 a pound and Brent crude advanced over $1 to $111.04 a barrel.
Treasuries were softer as the upbeat mood reduced demand for highly-rated sovereign bonds, pushing 10-year yields up 6 basis points to 1.88 per cent.
A deal in Washington to avoid the fiscal cliff and some improving economic data from the US and China had also raised investors’ spirits.
But over the previous five trading days the S&P closed between 1,470 and 1,473. Meanwhile, the CBOE Vix index, a measure of expected equity market volatility, rose on the day but it was still trading at multiyear lows at 13.3.
Some analysts pointed to underlying worries about a possible slowing of the US economy as Washington prepares for another batch of fiscal battles that may result in further spending cuts after recent tax rises.
For now, news on Thursday that US weekly initial jobless claims plunged and housing starts surged raised hopes that the world’s biggest economy was gaining some real traction.
Earlier in the day, the Asia-Pacific region was more cautious, its equity benchmark losing 0.3 per cent, as traders fretted that the recent evidence of a strengthening Chinese economy may soon be challenged.
Beijing will release fourth-quarter GDP data on Friday. Analysts expect annual growth of 7.8 per cent compared with 7.4 per cent in the previous three months, but some fear that optimistic consensus leaves the market vulnerable to disappointment. The Shanghai Composite fell 1.1 per cent on Thursday as investors hedged their bets.
Additional reporting by Jamie Chisholm in London