GLOBAL MARKETS-U.S. stocks extend winning streak; oil rebounds

Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:49pm EDT

* U.S. S&P stock index highest intraday since Oct. 2007

* European shares dip after Italian credit downgrade

* Wall Street's "fear gauge" falls to lowest since 2007

* U.S. oil prices rebound after losses on Chinese data

* Dollar near 3-1/2-year high vs yen on U.S. jobs growth

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks rose on Monday, driving the Dow to another record high, on optimism about the U.S. economy, while U.S. oil prices rebounded after disappointing Chinese industrial data spurred an initial drop.

The gain in equities curbed safe-haven demand for U.S. government debt, driving U.S. Treasury debt prices modestly lower. The rally in equities, along with optimism about the economic outlook after Friday's surprisingly strong U.S. jobs report, also dented the safe-haven appeal of gold, though the metal edged higher on the Chinese data.

European shares were weaker after a cut in Italy's credit rating late on Friday by Fitch Ratings rattled investors' confidence about Italy's public finances and drove down banking shares.

The dollar clung to gains from Friday's U.S. jobs report, trading near a 3-1/2-year high against the yen and a three-month peak versus the euro.

The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 stock index extended its winning streak to seven sessions and touched its highest intraday level since Oct. 15, 2007.

Friday's U.S. jobs report, along with encouraging data on the housing market, reinforced the appetite for stocks and views that the market will post further gains with help from the Federal Reserve's stimulus efforts.

"There's real belief in this rally," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York. "There are lots of investors out there looking for opportunities to put more money to work in equities, and they're using these little pullbacks we've had - and there haven't been many - as purchasing opportunities."

Wall Street's "fear gauge," the CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the VIX, fell to the lowest level since February 2007, closing 8.2 percent lower at 11.56.

The resilience on Wall Street and a 0.53 percent gain in Tokyo shares helped MSCI's world equity index rise 0.39 percent to 361.51, near its mid-2008 highs.

The Dow closed up 50.22 points, or 0.35 percent, at 14,447.29. The S&P 500 finished up 5.04 points, or 0.32 percent, at 1,556.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index ended up 8.51 points, or 0.26 percent, at 3,252.87.

The Dow has gained over 10 percent for the year, while the S&P 500 is up more than 9 percent.

Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed off 0.05 percent at 1,194.64, down from September 2008 peaks hit last week.

China reported over the weekend that annual industrial production for January and February combined rose 9.9 percent, the lowest since October 2012, while its consumer price index jumped more than expected last month.

Fitch on Friday cut Italy's debt to BBB-plus from A-minus and gave the rating a negative outlook, raising the risk its next ratings change will be a further downgrade.

Anxiety over further deterioration in Italy, the euro zone's third-biggest economy, pushed 10-year Italian government bond yields up 7 basis points to 4.66 percent.

"I think the Italian downgrade is acting as a bit of a wake-up call," said Alastair Winter, chief economist at investment bank Daniel Stewart & Co in London.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note traded in a narrow range and was last down 2/32 in price with a 2.056 percent yield. The 10-year yield touched an 11-month intraday high of 2.087 percent on Friday.

Gold posted modest gains, last up 0.2 percent at $1,581.40 an ounce. Gold bullion was seen staying within a range of $1,560 to $1,590.

OIL FALLS, DOLLAR FIRM

In addition to Italy's downgrade, the slower-than-expected growth in Chinese factory output briefly crimped investor sentiment on oil, copper and other raw materials.

U.S. oil futures settled up 11 cents or 0.12 percent at $92.06 a barrel, erasing an early loss of more than $1.

But Brent crude settled 63 cents or 0.57 percent lower to $110.22 a barrel, after ending last week marginally higher to snap three straight weekly losses.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange closed at $7,755 a tonne, up from a previous close of $7,740, having earlier hit a one-week low of $7,667 a tonne.

In the foreign exchange markets, the dollar added to gains made against most major currencies after Friday's payrolls data boosted hopes of a steady U.S. economic recovery this year.

The data has also fueled speculation the Federal Reserve could back off from its ultra-loose monetary policy sooner than anticipated, and this added to the currency's appeal as traders speculated about looser policies by other major central banks ahead.

The dollar dipped 0.19 percent at 82.52 against a basket of major currencies, not far from the seven-month high of 82.92 hit on Friday. The currency has risen nearly 5 percent since early February.

The euro was flat at $1.3049, not far from a three-month low of $1.2955 also hit on Friday, while the yen managed a 0.2 percent rise against the greenback at 96.27 yen.

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