GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks edge up as Wall St gains; supply weighs on oil

Mon Mar 4, 2013 4:37pm EST

* Chinese stocks cap gains in global equities

* U.S. crude briefly dips below $90 for first time this year

* Euro near recent lows as talk of rate cut gains strength

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rebounded late in the day on Monday to close higher, boosting a gauge of global equities, while crude oil prices were pressured by indicators that oil markets are amply supplied.

World shares as measured by the MSCI index ended little changed, stung by declines in Chinese indexes after weak manufacturing and services sectors data added to concern about slower growth in China, the world's second-largest economy.

Plans in China to tighten the housing market via higher down payments and loan rates for buyers of second homes in cities where prices are rising too quickly added to worries about the country's growth.

Growth concerns prompted initial caution on Wall Street, but investors took advantage of the decline to jump in, even though indexes hover near historic or multi-year highs.

"There are a lot of worries out there, but also a lot of positive momentum. Stocks remain the only game in town if you want yield," said Randy Bateman, chief investment officer of Huntington Asset Management in Columbus, Ohio, who helps oversee $14.5 billion.

"So many people think we're overextended that a pullback could happen at any time, but there are also so many people reentering the market on dips that I wouldn't be surprised to see a new high on the Dow sometime this month."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30.28 points or 0.21 percent, to 14,119.94, the S&P 500 gained 5.24 points, or 0.35 percent, to 1,523.4,4 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.5 points, or 0.27 percent, to 3,178.24.

The blue-chip Dow index is 0.32 percent away from closing at a record high.

MSCI's world equity index edged up 0.1 percent. European shares closed down 0.02 percent at 1,168.36 even as mining stocks posted a 2.1 percent fall.

A lack of progress in talks to form a new Italian government after last week's inconclusive elections weighed most on the country's stocks, down 0.85 percent, while 10-year bond yields rose to 4.881 percent after hitting more than 5 percent earlier in the session.

Analysts said yields could have climbed higher if it wasn't for the ECB's promise to support struggling nations, but doubts remained over how this could be implemented without a government able to enact tough reforms.

The euro hovered near recent lows against the U.S. dollar, pressured by the political uncertainty in Italy and expectations the ECB will cut interest rates sooner than previously anticipated.

The euro zone common currency was flat at $1.3020, not far from Friday's 11-week low of $1.2965.

"There's growing speculation that the (ECB) will show a greater willingness to push the benchmark interest rate to a fresh record low," said David Song, currency analyst at DailyFX in New York.

"The fundamental developments coming out of the euro area may continue to drag on the exchange rate should it highlight a weakening outlook for growth and inflation," Song said.

U.S. Treasury debt prices dipped further as stocks gained.

Treasuries could likely stay range-bound for much of the week as markets await an ECB policy meeting on Thursday and key U.S. jobs data on Friday.

"The market's a bit expensive to really go 'gung-ho' and buy at this point even though there's a lot of risk," said Kim Rupert, managing director of global fixed income analysis at Action Economics LLC in San Francisco.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 10/32 in price to yield 1.8772 percent, after the yield hit a near six-week low of 1.8270.

OIL SLIDES

Concern about China's growth, alongside expectations of even slower growth in the United States, weighed on crude oil prices.

"Economic sentiment has shifted, and we're also seeing the first stages of long liquidation in the oil market. Money managers had increased their exposure (to oil) a lot over a 10-week period," said energy analyst Tim Evans at Citi Futures in New York.

The International Monetary Fund said U.S. spending cuts that were triggered last Friday could cost the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, about 0.5 percent of its economic growth, a factor that could weigh on global oil demand.

Total U.S. oil inventories are up 9 percent from year-ago levels, and domestic oil and liquids production has risen by around one-fifth due largely to a boom in shale drilling, Evans added, citing the most recent data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

U.S. crude briefly traded below $90 a barrel for the first time this year and settled at $90.12, down 0.6 percent. Brent settled down 0.3 percent at $110.09 a barrel.

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.