Global stocks, euro rise, shrug off mixed signals

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Global stocks rose on Friday despite mixed signals from the U.S. economy, while strong euro- zone economic data dragged the dollar down to a month low versus the euro and eased aversion toward the single currency.

An unexpected drop in U.S. consumer confidence led Wall Street to end little changed and pressured commodities, which ended their worst week in a month even as the dollar dropped sharply. A weak dollar usually boosts demand for commodities.

European and global stocks, as measured by the benchmark indexes, ended at almost two-month highs, but U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) struggled a day after the S&P 500 hit a 17-month closing high.

A slight decline in U.S. consumer sentiment in early March offset data showing U.S. retail sales rose unexpectedly last month, leading Wall Street to gain in early trade.

News that euro-zone industrial output in January recorded its biggest monthly gain on record, while figures for December were revised sharply upward, gave European equities an initial boost. They extended gains on the U.S. retail sales data.

“The prevailing opinion is the market is going to continue to work higher so people don’t want to be selling things they expect three to six months from now will be higher,” said Michael James, senior trader at Los Angeles investment bank Wedbush Morgan.

MSCI’s all-country index (.MIWD00000PUS: ) rose 0.4 percent to its highest since January 19, the last day the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top European shares closed higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) closed 12.85 points higher, or 0.12 percent, to 10,624.69. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) slipped 0.25 point, or 0.02 percent, to 1,149.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) fell 0.8 point, or 0.03 percent, to 2,367.66.

The upbeat euro zone data gave traders a reason to cover near-record euro short positions, or bets that the euro had room to fall, to prevent losses.

Industrial production in the 16-country currency bloc jumped 1.7 percent from December, the steepest gain since the data series began in January 1990.

The short-covering pushed the euro up 0.75 percent at $1.3762, after hitting session peaks just shy of $1.38, the highest since February 11, according to Reuters data.

The dollar was down against a basket of major currencies, with the U.S. Dollar Index (.DXY: ) off 0.65 percent at 79.803.

Against the yen, the dollar was down 0.07 percent at 90.45.

Oil slipped more than 1 percent toward $81 a barrel after the survey of U.S. consumer confidence reignited investor concerns about U.S. energy demand.

U.S. crude for April delivery fell 87 cents to settle at $81.24, a 26-cent decline for the week. Earlier, the contract had climbed to $83.16, the highest since January 11.

In London, Brent crude fell 89 cents to settle at $79.39.

U.S. April gold futures settled down $6.50 at $1,101.70 an ounce in New York.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury prices rose over doubts about the pace of economic recovery before next week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 6/32 in price to yield 3.7025 percent.

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(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Ellen Freilich and Barani Krishnann in New York; Writing by Herbert Lash; Editing by Diane Craft)

Global stocks, euro rise, shrug off mixed signals