GLOBAL MARKETS-U.S. fiscal cliff deal prompts broad rally

Wed Jan 2, 2013 8:53am EST

* European shares jump after U.S. agrees budget deal
    * Euro rises as U.S. dollar weakens
    * Oil, copper jump as commodities join rally in risky assets

    By Marc Jones
    LONDON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - A long-awaited deal to avoid a
U.S. fiscal crisis prompted a broad global market rally on
Wednesday, with shares and commodities rising sharply while the
dollar and safe-haven government bonds fell.
    After a last minute scramble, U.S. lawmakers approved a plan
on Tuesday to prevent huge tax increases and delay spending cuts
that together would have pushed the world's largest economy off
the "fiscal cliff" and into a likely recession. 
    European markets followed their Asian counterparts and
rallied on the news, while futures prices pointed to Wall Street
doing the same.
    London's FTSE, Frankfurt's DAX and CAC 40
 in Paris were up between 2.1 and 2.4 percent and still
climbing by 1330 GMT. 
    The rises pushed the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 
up 1.9 percent and the MSCI world index up 1
percent, leaving it just below a 1-1/2 year high.
    "This is great news for global growth and explains why
shares and other growth-related assets are up strongly today,"
said Shane Oliver, strategist at AMP Capital.    
    Although the U.S. deal is not as far-reaching as markets had
wanted, approval by the House of Representatives of a plan 
backed by the Senate allayed fears that Republican objections to
the heavy emphasis on taxes rather than spending cuts could have
scuppered an agreement.  
    Assets which are traditionally seen as more risky rose 
across the board, with oil up 1 percent to $112, gold
 gaining $11 an ounce and copper up more than 2
percent in its biggest daily rise in six weeks. 
    In currency markets, the euro rose as high as $1.33
as the dollar fell 0.5 percent against a basket of major
currencies. The dollar traditionally rises when markets
sense risk and falls when tensions reduce.
    The Japanese yen also continued its slide, hitting
its lowest level since July 2010, as investors bet that the Bank
of Japan would have to take ever-more aggressive easing steps to
support the economy and satisfy the new government.
    It was a similar story for government debt, where prices of
higher-yielding Spanish and Italian bonds rose and the German
equivalent, usually favoured by risk-averse investors, fell. The
Bund future was on track for its biggest daily fall
since September as it dropped 1.5 points to 144.21.
    "The compromise is supportive for risk sentiment, as we've
seen in a few markets already, and it should weigh on Bunds
which should correct in line with (U.S.) Treasuries. Treasuries
could even underperform," said Rainer Guntermann, a strategist
at Commerzbank.        
  
    
    DATA DIVIDE
    Data showing the euro zone may have slipped further into
recession in the last quarter of 2012 failed to dampen the
post-U.S. optimism.
    Markit's Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index
(PMI) for December was revised down to 46.1 from an earlier
preliminary reading of 46.3. The index has been below the 50
mark that divides growth from contraction since August 2011.
    Manufacturing activity in Germany, Europe's largest economy,
 shrank for the 10th straight month and at a faster pace,
according to the national PMI, while the French index showed a
decline in all but one of the past 17 months. 
    Spain's slump also deepened, while the Italian PMI, although
improved, remained below 50 for the 17th month. Ireland was the
only euro zone member to show manufacturing growth in December.
    "It's pretty grim really," said Jonathan Loynes at Capital
Economics. "These surveys are pointing to a pretty deep
recession. If the German industrial sector is contracting quite
sharply, it is pretty hard to see where growth across the euro
zone as a whole is going to come from."
    Highlighting the growing divide in the global economy, Asian
manufacturing activity expanded, driven by revival in China's
economy and as factory activity in India expanded at its
strongest pace in six months.  
    
    DEAL DOUBTS
    Wall Street also looked set to react well to the fiscal
cliff agreement, with futures pointing to a chunky 1.7 percent
rise for the S&P 500 and gains of 1.5 and 2.0 percent for
the Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100.
    In Asian trading, the U.S. budget deal had triggered a 1.9
percent rise in the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index of stocks
, one of 2012's outperformers. 
    Hopes that stronger U.S. growth will help the global economy
pushed Australian shares to a 19-month high. With the
country's economy sensitive to global demand for its commodity
exports, the Australian dollar also jumped.
    Economists warn that plenty of reasons remain for investors
to be wary. The U.S. Congressional deal averted immediate pain
such as higher taxes for almost all U.S. households. However,
automatic spending cuts of $109 billion in military and domestic
programmes were delayed for only two months, during which
Congress must agree an alternative plan. 
    Obama urged "a little less drama" when Congress and the
White House next tackle problems such as the rapid rise in the 
government's $16 trillion debt. 
    "It's not really much of a deal. They are simply kicking the
can down the road," said Mouhammed Choukeir, Chief Investment
Officer at fund manager Kleinwort Benson.
    "They now have two months to agree on spending cuts, and
given the Republicans allowed for higher taxes on the rich, it's
now over to Obama and the Democrats to make some concessions.
It's by no means over. It will still loom over markets for the
next few months," he added.