GLOBAL MARKETS-Dollar, stocks gain after strong U.S. GDP

Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:37am EST

* Turmoil in emerging markets eases, Russia pledges to back rouble

* Safe-haven gold, U.S. Treasuries fall after U.S. GDP report

* U.S., European stocks rebound, emerging markets also turn higher

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The dollar strengthened and global equity markets rebounded on Thursday after data showed the U.S. economy with plenty of momentum in the last quarter of 2013, boding well for continued growth and support for corporate earnings.

The initial reading of 3.2 percent gross domestic product growth for the fourth quarter, combined with the 4.1 percent pace in the third quarter, resulted in the biggest half-year increase since the second half of 2003.

The strong GDP number, in line with economists' expectations, led equity markets in Europe to turn around and stocks on Wall Street to open higher. The dollar rose against a basket of currencies and revived the appeal of the greenback against the safe-haven yen and Swiss franc.

Turmoil in emerging markets also eased, as the Turkish lira and South African rand rebounded. Russia's central bank pledged unlimited foreign exchange interventions if the rouble strays outside its target range.

Emerging market currencies have been pressured ever since the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would begin to trim its massive bond buying, a program that has injected money into the U.S. economy and bolstered markets around the world.

"There's a lot of concern over what's happening overseas but in the domestic (U.S.) market GDP was pretty strong," said Cam Albright, director of asset allocation at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors in Wilmington, Delaware. "If you see growth in the economy pointing to higher earnings growth, that will give markets more confidence in the United States."

The Fed, as expected, said on Wednesday it will cut its monthly bond purchases by $10 billion in February to $65 billion as policymakers saw less need for stimulus through the quantitative easing program.

"The end of QE is an indication the economy is getting better, though I'm not sure the market has entirely transitioned to that idea yet," Albright said.

The dollar was up 0.71 percent against a basket of currencies at 81.080.

The euro fell 0.78 percent against the dollar at $1.3556, while against the yen, the greenback was up 0.37 percent at 102.66.

U.S. and European stock indexes were higher, while a measure of global equity markets, MSCI's all-country world index also rebounded, rising 0.1 percent. MSCI's emerging markets index, however, was down 0.15 percent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 100.99 points, or 0.64 percent, at 15,839.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 17.54 points, or 0.99 percent, at 1,791.74. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 69.43 points, or 1.71 percent, at 4,120.87.

In Europe the pan-regional FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading companies was up 0.2 percent to 1,292.87.

Gold fell more than 2 percent as the robust U.S. growth data and the Fed's decision on Wednesday to further trim its bond-buying boosted the dollar and prompted traders to cash in gains in the yellow metal.

U.S. gold futures for February delivery were down $21.60 an ounce at $1,240.60.

Brent oil rose to around $108 per barrel and U.S. crude reached its highest in a month on bitter cold in the United States, which has boosted heating oil demand.

Brent crude was up 32 cents to $108.17 a barrel. U.S. crude was up $1.02 at $98.38.

The U.S. bond market retreated following Wednesday's rally, but some of the money leaving equities found its way into the developed world's government bond market.

German Bund futures rose 30 ticks to 143.20, while German 10-year yields fell to 1.62 percent, their lowest in nearly six months.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were last down 12/32 in price to yield 2.7186 percent.

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

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