GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks extend rally, S&P hits new high as data signals growth

Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:44am EDT

* Batch of U.S. data provides lift to Wall Street
    * European shares, euro lifted by robust German data
    * Brent oil prices near 14-month low, but U.S. prices rise

 (Adds U.S. markets opening, byline; dateline previously LONDON)
    By Herbert Lash
    NEW YORK, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Global equity markets edged
higher on Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting an all-time high,
as U.S. and German data drove confidence on economic growth and
helped extend a stock rally.
    The data on German private-sector growth reassured investors
about the outlook for Europe's biggest economy following a soft
patch, while a batch of U.S. reports showed economic strength
early in the third quarter.
    Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index for
Germany was 54.9 for August, well above the 50 mark that
indicates economic expansion, a relief after GDP data last week
showed Germany suffered a surprise contraction in the second
quarter. 
    In the United States, home resales rose to a 10-month high
in July, factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region hit its
highest level since March 2011 in August, and a gauge of  future
economic activity grew solidly last month. 
    The benchmark S&P 500 rose as high as 1,992.65 points,
topping the prior record of 1,991.39 set in late July, and
European markets extended earlier gains. MSCI's measure of
global equity performance also rose, but its
measure of emerging markets slipped a bit.
    "It seems that conditions reflect the best of all worlds -
U.S. economic growth that is neither too slow, which would put
pressure on earnings, nor too fast," said Terry Sandven, chief
equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
    The Dow Jones industrial average rose 80.1 points, or
0.47 percent, to 17,059.23. The S&P 500 gained 5.63
points, or 0.28 percent, to 1,992.14, and the Nasdaq Composite
 added 0.31 points, or 0.01 percent, to 4,526.79.
    In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
regional shares rose 0.68 percent at 1,355.16 points.
    The German data helped the euro rebound against the
dollar, rising 0.2 percent to $1.3284. Against the yen, the
dollar gained 0.04 percent to 103.77 yen. 
    U.S. Treasuries hewed to a tight range, showing little
reaction to the stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data.
Investors awaited developments from the annual meeting of
central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that begins later on
Thursday.
    A speech on Friday by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen,
when she is expected talk about labor markets, is highly
anticipated by investors.
    "We have fairly light volumes. People are looking ahead to
Yellen," Justin Lederer, an interest rate strategist with Cantor
Fitzgerald in New York.
    Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries were up 1/32
in price to yield 2.4228 percent. 
    Brent crude oil fell below $102 a barrel, near a 14-month
low, on plentiful fuel supplies and as Chinese data pointed to
slowing demand, but prices rose in U.S. trading.
    Brent crude for October dropped 33 cents to $101.95
a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 59 cents to $94.04 a
barrel.
    

 (Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Marc Jones
in London; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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