GLOBAL MARKETS-World stocks flat as soft US data blamed on weather; dlr down

Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:03pm EST

* U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fall; jobless claims rise
    * U.S. stocks manage gains, but Cisco falls
    * European stocks dip
    * Italy's Letta announces resignation after market close
    * Bond prices gain


    By Caroline Valetkevitch
    NEW YORK, Feb 13 (Reuters) - World stock markets were nearly
flat on Thursday as soft U.S. economic data was blamed on bad
weather, while the dollar fell to a two-week low against the
euro.
    U.S. stocks rose, with big gains in technology stocks,
putting the Nasdaq on track for a sixth straight session of
gains, its longest winning streak since December 2011.
    Unseasonably cold and snowy weather hurt U.S. retail sales,
considered a gauge of consumer spending. Sales fell unexpectedly
in January, while other data showed more Americans filed for
jobless benefits last week. 
    Large parts of the United States have been gripped by
freezing temperatures and snow storms, which caused investors to
largely discount both the day's and other recent weak data that
suggested the economy started the year on weaker footing.
    "We understand the impact the weather is having, and we
expect the economy is going to perk up when we get some more
seasonal weather in the second quarter. Autos will come back,
housing will come back," said Phil Orlando, chief equity
strategist at Federated Investors in New York.
    "That's the reason why I think the S&P 500 is up right now
in the face of at least on the surface what was a disastrous
retail sales report."
    On Thursday, the eastern United States was in the grip of
another deadly winter storm that began late Wednesday.
    The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67.88 points,
or 0.43 percent, to 16,031.82; the S&P 500 gained 9.69
points, or 0.53 percent, to 1,828.95; and the Nasdaq Composite
 added 32.513 points, or 0.77 percent, to 4,233.801.
    Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O said it would buy Time Warner Cable
Inc for $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal that combines
the two largest U.S. cable operators.
    Time Warner Cable shares rose 7.1 percent to $144.94 while
Comcast shed 3.8 percent to $53.13. Shares of Charter
Communications Inc, which had also pursued Time Warner
Cable, fell 6.1 percent to $129.12. 
    The broad MSCI All-Country World Index was
up 0.2 percent, reversing earlier losses, while MSCI's index of
emerging market stocks was down 0.8 percent.
    In Europe, shares dipped as losses in Italy weighed on the
market due to political uncertainty there that raised worries
about efforts to turn around Italy's sputtering economy.
However, after the market close, Italian Prime Minister Enrico
Letta said he would tender his resignation on Friday, opening
the way for center-left leader Matteo Renzi to take the helm.
 
    European stocks snapped a week-long winning streak, with the
pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ending down 0.1
percent. 
    Shares of Swiss food group Nestle fell 1.5 percent
after the company said it may undershoot its long-term growth
targets again this year. 
    In the foreign exchange market, the dollar fell to a
two-week low against the euro and slid against other major
currencies, after the day's U.S. economic data. U.S. bond prices
rose following two days of losses.
    The euro rallied against the dollar, to $1.3694, its
strongest level since Jan. 27, before trimming gains to trade
0.55 percent higher on the day, at $1.3681.
    Benchmark 10-year Treasuries were up 9/32 in
price to yield 2.73 percent. 
    On Wall Street, a disappointing outlook from Cisco Systems
limited gains. Cisco shares fell 3.7 percent to $22.01.
    
    OIL PRICES END LOWER
    Oil prices ended the session lower, though Brent's losses
were limited by a report from the International Energy Agency
that developed world inventories fell by 137 million barrels at
the end of last year, for the steepest quarterly decline since
1999. 
    Brent crude oil futures fell 6 cents to settle at
$108.73 a barrel while U.S. crude oil dipped 2 cents to
settle at $100.35.
    In the precious metals market, gold rose to a three-month
high, targeting a break above $1,300 after the disappointing
U.S. retail sales data weighed on the dollar.
    Spot gold was last up 0.5 percent at $1,296.69 an
ounce. It rose to $1,299.50, its highest since Nov. 8 earlier.