GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks hit new highs; Portugal bond boosts sentiment

Tue May 7, 2013 3:11pm EDT

* MSCI share index at highest since 2008; DAX at record high
    * German data lifts euro, possible ECB action caps gains
    * Aussie dollar falls on RBA rate cut


    By Rodrigo Campos
    NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) - Major stock indexes in Germany
and the United States hit all-time highs on Tuesday after data
bolstered expectations that Germany has returned to growth,
while a successful bond sale in Portugal indicated the country
is on track to exit its bailout.
    The Reserve Bank of Australia surprised markets with a cut
in interest rates to a record low, highlighting the pressure a
stubbornly high currency is putting on the resource-exporting
economy.
    The euro firmed against most currencies following strong
data on German industrial orders, but bets on further monetary
easing at the European Central Bank kept gains in check.
    Germany, Europe's largest economy, reported a 2.2 percent
rise in industrial orders in March, compared with expectations
for a 0.5 percent drop. 
    Frankfurt's DAX became the first of the major
European indexes to breach the record high set in 2007,
following in the footsteps of the U.S. S&P 500, which has been
setting record highs since mid-April.
    MSCI's global index topped its June 2008
high after Japan's stock market, which had been closed on
Monday, soared in a delayed reaction to Friday's strong U.S.
jobs data. The global index was up 0.7 percent at 373.45.
    On Wall Street, the S&P 500 touched an intraday record high
of 1,625.91.
    In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones industrial
average rose 76.31 points or 0.51 percent, to 15,045.2,
the S&P 500 gained 7.61 points or 0.47 percent, to
1,625.11 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.33 points or
0.1 percent, to 3,396.3
    "We've been in this market where even the slightest bit of
decline is met with a bounce right back up. That just shows
there are still people waiting to get into equities," said Tim
Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management
in Bedford Hills, New York. 
    Caterpillar Inc, the world's largest construction
and mining equipment maker, was the Dow's biggest percentage
gainer, rising 2.1 percent at $89.39.
    With key economies like the United States seeing a patchy
recovery but others struggling to maintain growth, major central
banks around the world have shown over the last few weeks they
intend to keep stimulus flowing freely for now.
    Australia's central bank cut rates to a low of 2.75 percent
on Tuesday and suggested it may ease further. The move came
after the head of the ECB, Mario Draghi, on Monday reiterated
the bank's readiness to trim rates again if needed, following a
rate cut last week. 
    The growth-linked Aussie dollar was last at
US$1.0178, down 0.7 percent on the day. 
    The euro hit a session high of $1.3131 after the
German data and was last trading up 0.1 percent at $1.3084. 
     Gains in the euro, which is down 0.8 percent against the
dollar so far this year, could prove transitory, however, should
 the euro zone continue to languish in a recession that
motivates the ECB to ease monetary policy further. 
    Portugal sold 3 billion euros in its first 10-year bond in
more than two years, putting the country on course to exit its
bailout on time and qualify for a debt support program from the
ECB. 
    Portuguese benchmark yields, however, edged up
to 5.532 percent from 5.524 at the close on Monday. 
    Spanish and Italian bond yields - a
proxy for borrowing costs - edged lower while safe-haven German
Bund yields were at an almost four-week high. 
    Prices of U.S. Treasuries fell for a third session after a
three-year note sale brought few surprises, with the outlook for
an economic recovery offset by the sluggish pace of U.S. growth
and government stimulus plans around the world.
    Benchmark 10-year note yields rose to 1.78
percent, up from 1.76 percent on Monday and the highest since
April 12.
    "Despite the backup (in rates) there's not a real rush to be
a buyer down here," said Kim Rupert, managing director of global
fixed income analysis at Action Economics LLC in San Francisco.
"With Q2 not looking like a real pickup in growth either and
with so much stimulus globally, it's hard to hammer this market
lower." 
    The result, Rupert said, is a range-bound market, with
investors feeling little urgency to take a position.
    Persistent worries about demand from top consumers such as
China tempered gains in commodity prices.
    Three-month copper hit a three-week high of $7,374 a
ton before paring gains to trade up less than 0.1 percent at
$7,265. Copper on Monday posted its largest daily percentage
gain since October 2011, though prices are more than 8 percent
lower for the year.
    Brent crude oil prices fell in the absence of clear signs of
strengthening global demand, traders said. In a choppy session,
Brent was down 1 percent at $104.43 and U.S. crude
 shed 0.5 percent to $95.71.
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