Stocks, dollar rise on data; euro down

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) ticked higher on Tuesday as optimistic data prompted the view the economy is stabilizing and technology stocks gained, while in Europe persistent worries about debt problems in Greece weighed on the euro.

Greece’s sale of 5 billion euros of seven-year bonds on Monday attracted around 7 billion euros of bids, but that compared with more than 16 billion euros bid for a 5 billion euro 10-year issue earlier in the month.

“I think there’s more to the issue of sovereign debt and bond yields than people make out,” said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist, Subodh Kumar & Associates, in Toronto.

The euro’s decline against the dollar on unease about the euro zone’s fiscal health snapped a two-day advance, which some investors considered too far, too fast.

Strong U.S. consumer confidence boosted the dollar against the yen, with data on U.S. housing prices also pointing to an improving economy.

The Conference Board, an industry group, reported that U.S. consumer confidence rebounded in March, helped by a slight increase in optimism about the labor market.

And the closely-watched Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home prices index showed that January home prices rose for an eighth straight month, pointing to stability in the U.S. housing market.

The economic data also helped boost oil prices and drove copper prices to a 19-month high.

On Wall Street, stocks swung between gains and losses as low volume exaggerated market swings in a holiday-shortened week, before ending on a higher note. Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.)’s (AAPL.O: ) move to develop a new iPhone boosted telecom and chip maker shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) was up 11.56 points, or 0.1 percent, at 10,907.42. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) was up 0.05 points, or little changed, at 1,173.27. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was up 6.33 points, or 0.3 percent, at 2,410.69.

“Stocks are just trickling higher, gains are selective, it’s a short week and being the end of the quarter, people have locked in a lot of their positions,” said Cleveland Rueckert, market analyst at Birinyi Associates Inc in Stamford, Connecticut.

Apple shares closed up 1.5 percent at $235.83, after earlier hitting a record high, after The Wall Street Journal reported the company is developing a new iPhone that would work on Verizon Communications Inc’s (VZ.N: ) mobile network.

Verizon shares were up 2.6 percent at $31.23 while AT&T (T.N: ), currently the service provider for iPhone, shed 2.1 percent to $25.95.

The S&P 500 is up 5.2 percent quarter-to-date, while the Dow has climbed 4.6 percent and the Nasdaq has gained 6.2 percent.

Friday’s release of the government’s non-farm payrolls report for March is expected to give a fresh catalyst for the market to brush up against 18-month highs. The expectation is that the labor market had a significant turnaround last month, according to strategists.

European shares ended slightly higher on Tuesday, with gains in the utility sector overshadowing falls in banks, though UBS (UBSN.VX: ) rose on news about the performance of its fixed income business.

The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top European shares closed up 0.1 percent at 1,079.34 points after earlier touching its highest level since early October 2008, at 1,086.03.

The utility sector was in demand following rises on Monday as investors stuck with defensive stocks. E.ON (EONGn.DE: ), GDF Suez (GSZ.PA: ) and RWE (RWEG.DE: ) were up 0.7 to 1.3 percent.

EQUITIES FLAVOR OF THE MONTH

In currency markets, the dollar rose above 93 yen for the first time since early January as the strong U.S. consumer confidence data bolstered views that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates sooner than its Japanese or European counterparts. It was last up 0.4 percent at 92.80 yen.

“The U.S. economy keeps getting better while Japan is still in deflation, and with the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield knocking on 4 percent, the interest rate differential is pushing the dollar up,” said Hidetoshi Yanagihara, senior currency trader at Mizuho Corporate Bank in New York.

He said the dollar could reach 95 yen in the second quarter, which begins on Thursday.

Sterling rose as data showed the UK economy growing a bit more swiftly than expected. The pound rose 0.6 percent to $1.5062 while the euro was changing hands at 89.02 pence, down 1 percent.

The euro fell (Read more about the trembling euro. ) 0.6 percent to $1.3416 and shed 0.5 percent to 124.48 yen.

The dollar was up against a basket of major trading-partner currencies, with the U.S. Dollar Index (.DXY: ) up 0.1 percent at 81.482.

U.S. Treasury debt prices were mixed ahead of the end of the first quarter and some investors moved to the sidelines ahead of Friday’s U.S. payroll data.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 1/32, with the yield at 3.87 percent, while the two-year U.S. Treasury note was down 1/32, with the yield at 1.07 percent.

At the longer end of the yield curve, the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond was up 7/32, with the yield at 4.76 percent.

Conversely, the MSCI world equity index (.MIWD00000PUS: ) rose to its highest level since January, and emerging stocks (.MSCIEF: ) gained 0.6 percent.

In energy and commodities prices, U.S. light sweet crude oil rose 23 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $82.40 per barrel, while spot gold prices fell 0.5 percent, to $1102.70. The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index (.CRB: ) was up 0.89 points, or 0.3 percent, at 273.72.

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(Reporting by Nick Olivari; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Stocks, dollar rise on data; euro down