GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares at record highs for ECB, payrolls double-header

Thu Jul 3, 2014 8:26am EDT

* World shares close to peaks, bond yields creep higher

* ADP report fuels hopes for upbeat non-farm payrolls

* ECB keeps rates at record low, Draghi expected to stay dovish

By Marc Jones

LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - World shares were hovering around record highs on Thursday as markets waited for two major events - the European Central Bank fleshing out its latest easing plans and U.S. jobs data.

The ECB kept euro zone interest rates at an all-time low 0.25 percent, a fully expected decision after last month's aggressive moves, leaving markets to focus on the 1230 GMT U.S. jobs data and Mario Draghi's ECB news conference.

Investors were subdued before the two events, both usually big market movers. Stocks edged higher along with Spanish and Italian bonds while the euro barely budged against a slightly stronger dollar.

The ECB is expected to detail last month's aggressive easing plans, and forecasts are for non-farm payrolls to rise by more than 200,000 for a fifth straight month, bolstering the view the world's largest economy is back on track after a difficult winter.

"The main thing today will be the non-farm payrolls," said Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, the head of multi-asset funds at ING investment management."

"(President Mario) Draghi will be doing his best to make the ECB meeting a non-event, but after all the strong U.S. data this week, the ADP, ISM, the car sales data, (payrolls) could be the thing that finally convinces markets that they can't ignore it any more."

European stocks climbed 0.4 percent, heading for their third consecutive day of gains and keeping MSCI's All World index, which covers 45 countries, flush with Wednesday's latest record high.

The dollar was also up, copper on the London Metal Exchange hit its highest level since late February, and safe-haven gold was down amid a lull in tensions in Iraq and Ukraine.

DOLLAR, TREASURIES NUDGE HIGHER

The euro was hovering just below a six-week high at $1.3648 as German Bund yields nosed higher. The euro's strength is becoming a major thorn in the ECB's side, creating problems of low inflation and growth.

Sweden's crown fell to a 3-1/2-year low against the euro as its central bank cut rates more than expected. The Australian dollar lost ground after the head of the RBA warned the currency may weaken.

The dollar held firm above a recent eight-week low as benchmark 10-year U.S. treasury yields crept to a new 1 1/2-week high of 2.62 percent.

Early futures prices also pointed 8to minor gains on Wall Street later.

The U.S. jobs data is being released on Thursday because U.S. markets are closed for Independence Day on Friday, the day the report is usually released. It is due at 1230 GMT. The ECB's press conference ia also scheduled for 1230 GMT.

Asian equity markets saw little activity overnight, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ending steady after briefly touching a new three-year peak.

"If the (payrolls) data shows that the U.S. economy is in good health, Japanese shares in the auto and technology sector will likely be bought," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

OIL SLIPS

In commodities, crude oil extended losses after falling the previous day on encouraging signs of supply from Libya and Iraq.

Libya's acting prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni said the government had reached a deal with a rebel leader controlling oil ports to hand over a final two terminals that should end a blockade.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki also boosted supply hopes as he said parliament could form a new government in its next session after the first collapsed in discord.

Baghdad can ill afford a long delay as large swathes of the north and west fall under the control of an al Qaeda splinter group

Brent crude was back below $110.50 for the first time in over two-weeks while safe-haven gold fell 0.3 percent to $1,323.55 an ounce as it pulled back from a 3-month high. (Reporting by Marc Jones, editing by John Stonestreet/Ruth Pitchford)

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

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