GLOBAL MARKETS-US stocks higher before earnings; oil slips

* Wall Street higher on earnings optimism

* Rate expectations send Bund yield above 3.5 percent

* Yen comes off recent lows after latest aftershock
(Adds IMF economic forecast, updates prices)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged higher on
Monday on hopes for strong earnings, while crude oil prices
retreated on signs of progress in Libyan peace talks.

The African Union said Muammar Gaddafi had accepted a
roadmap to end the civil war, but forces loyal to him shelled
the town of Misrata. A broker said oil also fell on
profit-taking. For details, see [ID:nL3E7FB0Z5].

Aluminum maker Alcoa (AA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) will mark the unofficial start
of the quarterly earnings season when it reports its results
after the market’s close on Monday. Optimism about earnings
helped offset concerns about Japan, which suffered another
strong aftershock and expanded the evacuation zone around its
crippled nuclear plant.

The yen rebounded from an 11-month low against the euro and
a 2-1/2 year trough versus the Australian dollar, after the
latest earthquake, with a magnitude 6.6, prompted some
investors to unwind riskier bets often funded by cheap
borrowing in the Japanese currency.

“The good news for bulls as we enter earnings season is
that expectations appear to be low,” said Todd Salamone, senior
vice president of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research
in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 41.93
points, or 0.34 percent, at 12,422.43. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) was up 2.32 points, or 0.17 percent, at
1,330.49. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) was off 2.11
points, or 0.08 percent, at 2778.36.

World stocks as measured by MSCI (.MIWD00000PUS: Quote, Profile, Research) were flat,
with emerging markets (.MSCIEF: Quote, Profile, Research) off 0.5 percent. European
stocks fell, with the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of top
European shares down 0.1 percent.

Although the world economy is fairly robust, there are
growing expectations among investors that accompanying higher
commodity prices will drive up inflation and prompt central
banks to tighten monetary policy sooner.

The International Monetary Fund said on Monday it did not
believe that rising commodity prices will derail the global
economic recovery, but warned inflation will remain elevated
for a while.

Brent crude oil earlier fell by more than $1 to below $125
but has since retraced some of its losses moving above $126 a
barrel and U.S. crude futures slipped under $112, giving back
some ground after Friday’s strong rally.

ICE Brent crude for May (LCOc1: Quote, Profile, Research) was last down 77 cents at
$125.88 a barrel. U.S. crude for May delivery (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 89
cents to $111.92 a barrel.

YEN OFF LOWS

The euro touched its highest against the yen since May 2010
of 123.33 yen (EURJPY=R: Quote, Profile, Research) on trading platform EBS. It later gave
up gains and was last down 0.3 percent at 122.33 yen.

Traders said speculator positioning and some technical
indicators suggested that recent rallies in the euro and the
Australian dollar against the yen could pause in the short run,
with the latest in a series of quakes being used by some to
book profits.

The euro fell 0.3 percent versus the dollar to $1.4441
(EUR=: Quote, Profile, Research), having hit a 15-month high of $1.4489 on Friday.

The dollar found some support after the U.S. government
averted a potential shutdown, although analysts said the focus
on the debt ceiling debate could limit the greenback’s gains.

“We’re having some sort of relief rally after the U.S.
government did not shut down as feared,” said David Watt,
senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

Expectations of another rise in European Central Bank
interest rates by July kept the euro close to recent highs and
pushed euro zone government bond prices lower.

German Bund yields (DE10YT=TWEB: Quote, Profile, Research) briefly rose above 3.5
percent for the first time since August 2009.

The ECB raised its benchmark rate by 25 basis points last
week to 1.25 percent, the first hike since 2008, and used
language suggesting that another rise is in the pipeline.
(Additional reporting by Jeremy Gaunt, Saikat Chatterjee,
Blaise Robinson and Anirban Nag in London; Gertrude Chavez and
Angela Moon in New York; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

GLOBAL MARKETS-US stocks higher before earnings; oil slips