GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares up on China relief, Ukraine strains remain

Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:45am EDT

* China GDP grows 7.4 pct, slightly ahead of forecasts
    * European shares rebound, Wall Street seen up 0.3-0.5 pct
    * Nikkei leads the pack after 3 pct jump, EM inches higher
    * Ukraine tensions simmer

 (Adds opening of U.S. markets, changes byline, dateline;
previous LONDON)
    By Herbert Lash
    NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) - Global equity markets
advanced broadly on Wednesday after growth in China beat
expectations and cheered investors worried about its economy,
while the dollar slid on the growing view the Federal Reserve
will keep interest rates lower than normal for a few years.
    Wall Street was modestly higher, up for the third straight
day. The Nasdaq Composite continued to rebound from Tuesday's
lows, having gained 2.7 percent from that intraday low of
3946.03 that was just a smidge away from a 20 percent
correction.
    China's economy grew 7.4 percent in the first quarter from a
year earlier, topping forecasts of 7.3 percent and dashing
speculation that growth would be closer to 7 percent after a
string of recent soft numbers. 
    The relief rippled through Asian markets, with Japan's
Nikkei ending up 3 percent, its biggest gain since
February, and spread to Europe and then Wall Street.
    MSCI's all-country world index rose 0.6
percent. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European
shares was up 0.96 percent at 1,319.40 points. Yet most traders
pegged the gain as a technical rebound after a 1 percent fall in
the previous session. 
    Earlier this month the European index hit a near six-year
high. But the rally has been halted by worries over the crisis
in Ukraine as well as concerns about the pace of Chinese growth.
    "There is a lot of concern about Chinese growth this year so
there is some relief in the GDP number," said Jim Russell,
senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in
Cincinnati. "We think that is influencing the market today."
    On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose
73.79 points, or 0.45 percent, to 16,336.35. The S&P 500 
gained 6.57 points, or 0.36 percent, to 1,849.55 and the Nasdaq
Composite added 12.401 points, or 0.31 percent, to
4,046.562.
    Yahoo was the leading percentage gainer on the S&P
500 as revenue growth accelerated in the last quarter of 2013
for Alibaba IPO-ALIB.N, in which Yahoo holds a 24 percent
stake. Yahoo shares jumped 5.2 percent to $36.00.
     
    Google and IBM will report later
, while markets face another test when Fed Chair Janet
Yellen speaks on monetary policy and the economic recovery at
the Economic Club of New York.
    Sentiment may get a lift if she offers reassurance that any
rise in interest rates will come well after the Fed ends its
asset-buying program.
    The euro took little notice, however, rising 0.2
percent to $1.3837. There were also more bond gains for former
trouble spots Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. 
    The 10-year U.S. Treasury note slipped 6/32 of a point to
boost its yield to 2.65 percent. 

   
    
    SHOW OF FORCE
    Capping the upbeat mood were mounting risks in Ukraine after
Russia declared the country to be on the brink of civil war and
Kiev said an "anti-terrorist operation" against pro-Moscow
separatists was under way. 
    Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels staged
rival shows of force in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, though
hopes remained that talks in Switzerland on Thursday between
Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and EU could cool the situation.
    In currency markets, apart from sterling, the majors were
confined to tight orbits with the euro a fraction higher 
and the dollar edging up to 102.28 yen.
    The main mover was the New Zealand dollar which took a spill
after inflation registered a surprisingly low 1.5 percent in the
first quarter. That prompted markets to pare back expectations
on how far and fast interest rates might rise there.
 
    The kiwi fell to its lowest in more than a week at $0.8603
, and dragged down its Australian counterpart to $0.9371
.
    In commodities, gold slipped to $1,299.56 an ounce,
well off Monday's peak at $1,330.90. It had tumbled about 2
percent on Tuesday on heavy stop-loss orders placed by momentum
traders as prices broke below the key 200-day moving average.
    Benchmark Brent oil rose 70 cents to a five-week high of
$110.01 on developments in Ukraine and the China data,
while U.S. crude futures were up 33 cents to $104.09.
    "The situation in eastern Ukraine has deteriorated in the
past couple of days," Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity
markets strategy at BNP Paribas, said. "And no one is pricing in
economic sanctions."

 (Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London; Editing by
Meredith Mazzilli)