GLOBAL MARKETS-Japan's liquidity surge lifts stocks, oil slides

Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:32am EDT

* Surprise decline in U.S. unemployment benefits buoys equities

* Record drop in PC sales pulls U.S. tech shares lower

* MSCI world equity index up 0.5 pct to five-year highs

* Yen remains under pressure from BOJ stimulus

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - World equity markets rallied for a fourth day on Thursday, lifted by a surprise drop in Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week, while crude fell on a cut in global demand forecasts as U.S. oil supplies hit a two-decade high.

The larger-than-expected drop in U.S. jobless claims came as world equities markets rose on continued support from Japan's aggressive monetary easing and signs of a growing recovery in China.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 42,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, a drop that could ease fears of a marked deterioration in U.S. labor market conditions after a surprise stumble in job growth in March.

Wall Street mostly rose despite a drop in tech shares after a 14 percent plunge in personal computer sales in the first quarter, the sharpest drop in two decades of record-keeping.

The plunge marks a new milestone in the apparent ebbing of the PC age as computing goes mobile via tablets and smartphones.

The Nasdaq fell and shares of Microsoft Corp, Intel Corp, Apple Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co were the four biggest decliners in the benchmark S&P 500, which closed on Wednesday at an all-time high.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 42.89 points, or 0.29 percent, at 14,845.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 4.38 points, or 0.28 percent, at 1,592.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.13 points, or 0.00 percent, at 3,297.38.

Since the Bank of Japan unveiled its radical stimulus program a week ago, the dollar has gained about 7 percent, yields on major government bonds have fallen and MSCI's world equity index has hit levels last seen in June 2008.

The latest gains in equities have been helped by evidence of an economic recovery in China - notably signs of growing domestic demand and easier credit - and by indications from the European Central Bank last week that it may cut rates.

MSCI's all-country world index rose 0.6 percent, a day after posting its second-best gain of the year.

"The stronger-than-expected Japanese liquidity surge has led us to reassess our views on risky assets," said Salman Ahmed, fixed income strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 4/32 in price to yield 1.7913 percent.

Brent crude oil fell below $105 per barrel, not far above an eight-month low, after analysts cut forecasts for global oil demand growth and U.S. crude oil stocks increased to their highest level in more than two decades.

Brent futures were down 55 cents to $105.24 a barrel. U.S. crude futures fell 28 cents to 94.36 a barrel.

The dollar fell from a four-year high against the yen but still looked to strengthen above the 100 level in the near term as traders bet the Bank of Japan's aggressive monetary easing will trigger further yen weakness.

The dollar was last down 0.35 percent at 99.41 yen, having risen as high as 99.87 yen on Wednesday, the strongest level since April 2009.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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