GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares rise on Apple, Fed's outlook

Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:34pm EDT

* Global stocks surge, spurred by Apple's strong results

* Euro gains, dollar slips after Bernanke, Fed statement

* Bond yields pare some losses, crude oil ends higher

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - Global shares jumped on W ednesday after better-than-expected earnings from Apple Inc bolstered optimism over corporate earnings and the Federal Reserve reiterated its expectation that interest rates would not rise until late 2014 at the earliest.

The dollar slipped and U.S. stocks extended gains after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank "would not hesitate" to launch another round of bond purchases to drive borrowing costs lower if it looked like the economy needed it.

The broad S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent and the Nasdaq climbed more than 2 percent, on Apple's results.

The Fed raised its forecasts for economic growth and core inflation and lowered its expectations for the unemployment rate for 2012. The forecasts countered data earlier in the day on capital good orders, which indicated slower growth in the second quarter.

The euro dropped to session lows against the U.S. dollar after the Fed raised its growth forecast for this year by two-tenths of a percentage point to a range of 2.4 to 2.9 percent.

The euro later gained, rising almost 0.3 percent at $1.3225 in late New York trade.

"The forecast was broadly as expected. The biggest shift was zero now expect tightening in 2016 and those people migrated to 2014. It is slightly hawkish, but in line with expectations," said Jacob Oubina, senior U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

U.S. equity markets were up the day after Apple reported quarterly profit almost doubled from a year earlier.

Shares of Apple rose 8.9 percent to $610.41 on a surge that increased its market capitalization by about $50 billion.

Apple's forecast-beating results removed a weeks-old market overhang and lifted optimism in a corporate earnings season that is already far outstripping expectations. About 75 percent of the 200 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results so far have beat expectations, a rate that is above the norm.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 72.05 points, or 0.55 percent, at 13,073.61. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 16.71 points, or 1.22 percent, at 1,388.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 65.34 points, or 2.21 percent, at 3,026.94.

Investors shrugged off a Commerce Department report that showed durable goods orders for March fell 4.2 percent, the biggest decline in three years and the latest of recent signs of softness in U.S. economic data.

"This adds to the evidence that momentum in the economy sort of fell flat in March," said Ellen Zentner, senior U.S. economist at Nomura Securities in New York.

However, non-defense capital goods shipments excluding aircraft, used to calculate gross domestic product, were much stronger than expected in March, she said.

The 2.6 percent increase is "likely to lift estimates, believe it or not, for first-quarter GDP," Zentner said. "But... this report implies a fairly weak outlook for business investment."

MSCI's all-country world equity index rose 1.0 percent to 326.46, but its emerging markets index traded near break-even on a slide in Brazilian equities. Itau Unibanco Holding, Brazil's biggest private-sector lender, said it will set aside more money to cover growing past-due loans.

European shares rose for a second day, buoyed by a crop of strong earnings reports. The FTSE Eurofirst index of top European shares closed up 1 percent at 1,042.55.

U.S. Treasury debt prices fell. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 3/32 in price to yield 1.98 percent.

Brent rose 96 cents to settle at $119.00 a barrel. U.S. crude for June delivery settled up 57 cents at $104.12 a barrel.

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