Euro and stocks rally as China reassures investors

By Daniel Bases

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – The euro staged a broad rally and U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) jumped about 3 percent on Thursday, after China said Europe remains a key investment market for its foreign-exchange reserves.

The People’s Bank of China said a Financial Times report that Beijing was concerned about its euro-zone bond holdings due to the European debt crisis was groundless. The report had driven the euro to a near four-year low on Wednesday and cut short a rally in U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ).

Stocks in Europe and emerging markets also jumped and crude oil prices jumped 4 percent as the perceived risk that China might change the composition of its foreign exchange reserves was reduced.

“Reports from the front suggested that investors might become frightened that China could do something drastic,” said Douglas Peta, an independent market strategist in New York. “Getting some assurance that Chinese sales of European sovereign debt isn’t imminent is making everyone feel better.”

European shares closed above the 1,000 mark for the first time in just over a week while government debt prices fell as the bid for safety ebbed. Stocks in emerging markets also surged, with Brazil shares up more than 3 percent.

Bargain hunters picked through stock markets that had been beaten down by fears that Europe’s debt crisis could spark a credit crunch and undermine the global economic recovery.

At the close of trade, the Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) gained 284.54 points, or 2.85 percent, to 10,258.99. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) rose 35.11 points, or 3.29 percent, to 1,103.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) climbed 81.80 points, or 3.73 percent, at 2,277.68.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: ) climbed 4 percent to $26, a day after ceding its position to Apple (AAPL.O: ) as the largest technology company by market cap. FBR Capital Markets upgraded Microsoft, a Dow component, to “outperform,” citing its improving fundamentals and recent share underperformance.

The PHLX Semiconductor index (.SOXX: ) gained 5.2 percent. Technology stocks had been battered recently due to the companies’ high concentration of sales overseas.

Equity markets shrugged off a report showing the U.S. economy grew at a slower pace than previously estimated in the first quarter as business investment slackened.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3: ) closed up 2.9 percent at 1,000.46 points. The index remains down around 10 percent from a mid-April peak on worries about Europe’s debt crisis. MSCI’s all-country world stock index (.MIWD00000PUS: ) also rose 2.9 percent.

Banks, which have been heavily hit by concerns about Europe’s debt crisis, rose for a second straight day and were among the top risers.

BP (BP.L: ) gained 5.9 percent. The company said it was making progress with its effort to plug its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well.


The euro gained 1.67 percent at $1.237 while the dollar fell against a basket of major trading-partner currencies, with the U.S. dollar index (Read more about the global trade. ) (.DXY: ) falling 1.05 percent at 86.208.

Stock market gains also supported the euro, while the yen came under broad pressure as investors put on riskier bets funded by cheap borrowing in the Japanese currency. The dollar rose 1.38 percent to 91.06 yen in late New York trade.

“We’re following the equity markets. The dollar/yen started to gain some traction … and that’s dragging the whole risk trade up, which is giving another boost to the euro,” said Tim O’Sullivan, chief dealer at in Bedminster, New Jersey.

China has been trying to diversify its currency reserves to reduce the dollar’s dominance in favor of the euro and yen to curb risks.

On Wednesday the euro collapsed 1.5 percent against the dollar after the Financial Times reported China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) was meeting foreign bankers because of concerns about its exposure to debt troubles in Europe.

SAFE, the arm of the central bank, manages China’s $2.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves — the world’s largest stockpile.

Separately, the Kuwaiti Investment Authority on Thursday denied a local media report that it, too, was reducing its exposure to euro zone investments. The sovereign wealth fund stated there was no change to its long-term investment strategy including Europe.

In response to the better risk appetite, safe-haven benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries traded 1-12/32 lower, driving the yield up to 3.35 percent.

Euro zone government bond futures settled 39 ticks lower at 128.33, well off the session low of 128.34.

Crude oil prices posted their biggest two-day gain since mid-August, as a forecast for an intense Atlantic hurricane season fueled fears of disruptions in U.S. supplies and spurred speculative buying. Oil had also risen more than 4 percent on Wednesday.

U.S. light sweet crude oil settled up $3.04, or 4.25 percent, to $74.55 per barrel, and spot gold prices rose $2.20, or 0.18 percent, to $1212.10. Gold is up about 3 percent this week.

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(Additional reporting by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Kirsten Donovan, Brian Gorman and Neal Armstrong in London, Lucia Mutikani in Washington, Ryan Vlastelica, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Wanfeng Zhou, Edward Krudy in New York)

Euro and stocks rally as China reassures investors