GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rally on China, German data, euro gains
* Major equity indexes hit five-year peaks, Dow, S&P at record highs * China reports stronger-than-forecast April trade data * March German industrial output also beats estimates * Euro rises on German data, copper gains on China By Herbert Lash NEW YORK, May 8 (Reuters) - Global equity markets and the euro rose on Wednesday as strong Chinese trade data and signs that Germany may escape a sharp slowdown pushed shares to five-year highs worldwide, with U.S. benchmarks climbing to all-time records. Stocks on Wall Street rose after early declines and closed on a surge, a pattern crude oil tried to follow. The U.S. crude benchmark gained 1 percent, but North Sea Brent fell a tad as concerns persisted over global demand. China's daily crude imports in April rose 3.7 percent from a year ago, customs data showed, while German industrial output unexpectedly jumped in March, fanning hopes that Europe's biggest economy is gaining strength. The euro advanced against the dollar for a second straight session as the unexpected rise in German industrial output pared prospects of a near-term interest rate cut in the euro zone. The euro rose 0.58 percent to $1.3153 as the safe-haven dollar softened and markets began to question whether the ECB would need to cut rates again. Huge injections of liquidity from leading central banks to boost their economies have fueled an equities rally and helped to outweigh any doubts of slowdown in China's economy. "While the U.S. equity market is widely believed to be tracking ahead of economic growth, broad market valuations are fair and not at extremes, implying still further upside," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. Although analysts cite the attractive valuation of stocks relative to other assets, the magnitude and speed of the U.S. rally have spurred talk of a pullback. The benchmark S&P 500 index is up 14.5 percent so far this year and has climbed more than 6 percent in three weeks. Both the S&P and the Dow closed at new highs, with the Dow closing above 15,000 for the first time. It was the fifth successive closing high for the S&P, and the second straight closing high for the Dow. MSCI's all-country world equity index, which tracks stocks in 45 countries, rose 0.73 percent to a five-year high before pulling back slightly as top European shares followed their Asian counterparts. The FTSEurofirst 300 of leading regional shares rose 0.7 percent to close at 1,229.43. The index has gained about 7 percent over the past three weeks on strong support from central banks, which have promised to keep interest rates low and increase money supply. "The market is on life support from the central banks. The level of complacency in the market is very high at the moment and we could get a correction anytime," FXCM analyst Nicolas Cheron said. "It's time to take profits on a number of stocks that have performed well lately, and to hedge the portfolios." The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 48.92 points, or 0.32 percent, to 15,105.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 6.73 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,632.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 16.64 points, or 0.49 percent, to 3,413.27. Copper, one of the commodities tied most closely to global growth prospects, jumped to a three-week high of $7,480 a tonne before paring some gains to close 2.1 percent higher. The economic reports boosted other commodities despite doubts about the quality of the Chinese data. "We are lacking the catalyst in the numbers to suggest we could go back to the highs reached earlier this year," said Olivier Jakob, analyst at Petromatrix. Brent fell 6 cents to settle at $104.34 a barrel, while U.S. oil rose $1.00 to settle at $96.62 a barrel. U.S. Treasuries prices turned higher, erasing early losses. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 3/32 in price to yield 1.7691 percent. Spot gold rose $21.17 to $1,473.10 an ounce. U.S. Comex gold futures for June delivery settled up $24.90 at $1,473.70 an ounce.
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