GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks, oil rise in festive cheer

* MSCI world equity index steady near Sept 2008 high

* Oil sets fresh 2-year high on cold weather

* Euro steady; German government bonds weaker

By Natsuko Waki

PARIS, Dec 24 (BestGrowthStock) – World stocks held near the
previous day’s two-year high on Friday while oil hit fresh
two-year peaks after strong U.S. data this week encouraged
investors to maintain their risk positions into 2011.

Thursday’s U.S. data showing that demand for a range of
long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods surged in November and
consumer spending rose for a fifth straight month reinforced
expectations for strong economic growth in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve had a good run, helped by quantitative easing and
better economic data,” said Bernard McAlinden, investment
strategist at NCB Stockbrokers in Dublin. “We’ve broken out of
ranges, and it can go higher in 2011.”

The MSCI world equity index (.MIWD00000PUS: ) edged higher to
just below Thursday’s peak, which was its highest since
September 2008, set just before the collapse of Lehman
Brothers.

The index is up 9.6 percent this year.

Fund tracker EPFR said investor focus shifted from bonds to
equities in the final weeks of 2010, with equity funds globally
taking in a net $4.5 billion for the week ending Dec. 22. Bond
funds saw redemptions totaling $2.3 billion.

The Thomson Reuters global stock index (.TRXFLDGLPU: ) dipped
slightly, but the FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3: ) rose about
0.1 percent.

Ratings agency Fitch downgraded Portugal on Thursday,
citing burgeoning debt levels and a tough financing
environment, a move analysts said was largely expected by
investors.

The downgrade puts Fitch’s rating for Portugal on a par
with Moody’s A1 rating, but still two notches above that of
Standard and Poor’s A-minus. [ID:nN23149674]

Trading was very light, with markets closed in Germany,
Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland,
Greece, Austria, Hungary, and Iceland. U.S. markets were also
closed to observe the Christmas holiday.

Emerging market stocks (.MSCIEF: ) fell slightly.

U.S. crude oil (CLc1: ) rose more than 1 percent to $91.41 a
barrel as unusually cold weather fueled demand and depleted
supplies.

Snow and more frigid temperatures were predicted in parts
of Europe over the weekend, threatening to prolong chaos at
airlines and rail networks and further boost fuel demand.
[ID:nLDE6BL00B]

The bund future (FGBLc1: ) fell 32 ticks.

The U.S. dollar (.DXY: ) fell less than 0.1 percent against a
basket of major currencies, while the euro was mostly unchanged
at $1.3114 (EUR=: ).
(Additional reporting by Padraic Cassidy)

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks, oil rise in festive cheer