Stocks rally, euro climbs as risk back on menu

By Daniel Bases

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Wall Street staged a late-day surge on Thursday, extending its rally to three days on upbeat U.S. jobs data that also helped European shares to 10-day highs and the euro to a two-week peak.

The euro also benefited from the emergence of details surrounding Europe’s bank stress tests, heartening investors, who saw criteria for the checks were no worse than markets expected.

An improvement in Australia’s employment market kick-started the move to higher-risk assets and away from the safe-haven greenback. [ID:nSGE66702T]. For similar reasons, gold eased below $1,200 an ounce and benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries fell.

Risk appetite increased after weekly first-time U.S. jobless claims dropped to their lowest level in two months, offering a ray of hope for economic recovery.

“The euro is moving back up and that is a signal that people are less defensive and a little more risky,” said John Massey, portfolio manager at SunAmerica Asset Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The euro rose as high as $1.2711, its highest since mid-May, according to Reuters data.

After a dip lower in midday trade, U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) closed up.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) rose 120.71 points, or 1.20 percent, to 10,138.99. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ), at one point lower on the day, finished up 9.98 points, or 0.94 percent, at 1,070.25. The Nasdaq Composite Index also erased earlier losses to end up 15.93 points, or 0.74 percent, to 2,175.40 (.IXIC: ).

The indexes are up between 4 and 4.7 percent in the last three sessions.

“The data we saw today was better than what we are used to seeing … it shed a bit of hope,” said Steve Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co in Greenwich, Connecticut.

“But there is still so much bearishness in the market that it is causing stocks to swing in such a swift manner.”

U.S. retailers gave a mixed picture as monthly chain store sales rose, boosted by promotions. The S&P retail index (.RLX: ) cut early losses to close flat on the day.

Consumer staples (.GSPS: ) were the S&P’s best-performing sector, with Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O: ) rising 2.6 percent at $55.71.

However, in the technology sector, chipmaker shares weakened. The PHLX semiconductor index (.SOXX: ) fell 0.07 percent after a more than 5 percent gain on Wednesday.

European shares closed higher, led by bank stocks. The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: ) index of top European shares closed up 0.95 percent at 1,015.56 points, the highest close since late June. Thursday marked the third straight day of gains after falls of more than 7 percent in the previous two calendar weeks.

Financial stocks were among the top gainers, with the STOXX Europe 600 banking index (.SX7P: ) rising 1.7 percent.

The MSCI world equity index (.MIWD00000PUS: ) rose 1.21 percent to a 1-1/2 week high. The Thomson Reuters global stock index (.TRXFLDGLPU: ) also rose 1.17 percent.

In Japan, the Nikkei (.N225: ) ended up 2.8 percent, buoyed by short-covering from investors who believe the benchmark’s slide to a seven-month low this week was overdone.

EURO GAINS

Europe named 91 banks taking part in a health test of its banking system on Wednesday — including many regional banks where markets suspect most of the sore spots reside — as it seeks to restore confidence in the sector.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said appropriate action would be taken where needed on bank balance sheets. He spoke after the ECB bank left interest rates on hold at a record low 1.0 percent.

Trichet said the global economy and foreign trade may recover more strongly than projected, further supporting euro zone exports. The area’s economy, however, is expected to grow “at a moderate and still uneven pace in an environment of high uncertainty,” he said.

The euro rose 0.49 percent to $1.2696, extending a strong run after hitting a four-year low of $1.1876 in early June. The greenback gained 0.70 percent at 88.31.

The Australian dollar gained about 1.5 percent on the day against the U.S. dollar to $0.8770.

The U.S. Treasury said China’s yuan is undervalued, but refrained from saying Beijing was manipulating its currency despite pressure to do so from U.S. manufacturers hurt by cheap imports from China.

The International Monetary Fund raised its U.S. growth forecast slightly to 3.3 percent for 2010 and 2.9 percent for 2011, but said unemployment would remain above 9 percent for both years and inflation would remain low.

The IMF also sees the greenback depreciating moderately over the next five years, saying it is “somewhat” overvalued and greater currency flexibility in some countries will be needed to support the global economy.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries fell 13/32 of a point in price, pushing the yield to 3.04 percent.

“It’s a low, low-yielding world,” said Richard Gordon, fixed-income strategist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Slow growth is being priced in and there’s no inflationary pressure right now.”

The German government two-year bond yield rose 5.2 basis points to 0.734 percent, having at one point raced up to 0.745 percent, its highest level since the end of April.

Spot gold fell 0.32 percent, to $1,198.00 while crude oil settled up 1.85 percent, at $75.44 a barrel.

(Additional reporting by Angela Moon, Matt Lynley, Edward Krudy, Richard Leong, Natsuko Waki, Vivianne Rodrigues, Tricia Wright, Aiko Hayashi, Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Stocks rally, euro climbs as risk back on menu