GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rise on hopes of conflicts cooling; copper slides

Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:24am EDT

* European shares up on corporate earnings

* Copper falls more than 1 pct after Chinese data

* Sterling hits 4-month low vs U.S. dollar (Updates prices, comment; changes dateline; previous LONDON)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Aug 13 (Reuters) - A global gauge of stock markets rose on Wednesday as investors were cautiously optimistic about de-escalation of conflicts in Ukraine and Iraq, but copper, a barometer for global economic growth, fell more than 1 percent to a seven-week low.

Recent anxiety over the standoff between Russia and Ukraine ebbed slightly after Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said late on Tuesday that the possibility of Russia's military invading eastern Ukraine had receded after Moscow agreed to send in humanitarian aid under Red Cross auspices.

Still, Ukraine denounced the convoy as an act of Russian cynicism and said it would not be allowed to cross the border.

In Iraq, where the new prime minister-designate already won endorsements from the United States and Iran, got support from Shi'ite militia and army commanders. They had been loyal to Nuri al-Maliki, the previous prime minister, who has refused to step aside. The support of the army commanders may signal reduced likelihood the country would descend further into violence.

"The market seems comfortable with what's going on abroad, and while there's always a risk of escalation, which would give the market pause, trying to anticipate that is pure speculation," said David Lebovitz, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.

"Focusing on fundamentals has us viewing any weakness as a buying opportunity," he added

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 97.44 points, or 0.59 percent, at 16,657.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 12.71 points, or 0.66 percent, at 1,946.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 37.58 points, or 0.86 percent, at 4,426.83.

European shares gained ground, helped in part by forecast-beating results from bellwethers such as Swiss Life and E.ON.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent, with MSCI's world stock index up 0.5 percent.

In currency markets, sterling fell 0.7 percent against the U.S. dollar to a four-month low of $1.6692 after the Bank of England slashed its forecast for wage growth, prompting investors to push back expectations of when interest rates would rise.

But the euro rose against the greenback to as much as $1.3415 following data showing U.S. retail sales unexpectedly stalled in July, pointing to some loss of momentum.

"The (retail sales) report draws a picture of weaker consumer spending in the third quarter. That plays into expectations the Fed will be in no hurry to raise interest rates," said Sireen Haraji, currency strategist at Mizuho Corporate Bank in New York.

The euro was last up 0.1 percent at $1.3378.

U.S. Treasury debt yields fell after the soft retail sales data, as traders bet on more support from the U.S. central bank.

Still, the decline in bond yields was limited ahead of a $24 billion auction in 10-year notes at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT).

"The knee-jerk reaction to the retail sales data was a disappointment" said Craig Dismuke, chief economic strategist at Vining Sparks in Memphis, Tennessee.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was up 5/32 in price, its yield down to 2.422 percent.

German 10-year yields fell 3 basis points to 1.03 percent, having hit a record low of 1.02 percent last week.

OIL FLAT NEAR RECENT LOWS, COPPER SLIPS

Copper, seen as a barometer of global growth, fell to a seven-week low below $6,882 per tonne, dragged down by soft data on China's property sector, which raised concerns about the outlook for the metal used in power and construction. It was last down 1.1 percent at $6,884.

September Brent crude futures, which expire on Thursday, fell as low as $102.37, the weakest for a front-month price since July 1, 2013, before trading little changed at $102.92.

OPEC output rose to a five-month high of 30.44 million barrels per day in July as increased production from Saudi Arabia and Libya more than offset declines in Iraq, Iran and Nigeria.

"Brent prices have been in a steady decline and I think the background of that is that the market is forming the view that any supply disruptions are not on the immediate horizon," CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said.

U.S. crude was down 50 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $96.87. (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica, Richard Leong, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York and David Sheppard in London; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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