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

Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:43pm EDT

* Spate 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 close of European bond, stock markets)
    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.
    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 German GDP data
last week showed 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 71.54 points,
or 0.42 percent, to 17,050.67. The S&P 500 gained 4.93
points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,991.44 and the Nasdaq Composite
 was flat, down 0.13 points, or -0 percent, to 4,526.35. 
  
    In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
regional shares rose 0.67 percent to close at 1,355.09 points.
    While stocks might be a tad pricey, earnings growth will
continue to support U.S. equities, said Bernie Williams, chief
investment officer of investment solutions at USAA Investments 
in San Antonio, Texas.
    "Right now the latest consensus is 8 or 9 percent earnings
growth, I think that's what propels the market going forward,"
Williams said.
    The German data helped the euro rebound against the
dollar, rising 0.17 percent to $1.3281. Against the yen, the
dollar gained 0.11 percent to 103.84 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, which begins late
Thursday.
    A speech on Friday by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen,
when she is expected talk about labor markets, is highly
anticipated by investors.
    Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries rose 2/32 in
price to yield 2.4193 percent. 
    U.S. crude rose and Brent futures pared losses, lifted by
the U.S. economic data after a plentiful supply picture.
    Brent crude for October rose 25 cents to $102.53 a
barrel, while U.S. crude rose 89 cents to $94.34 a
barrel.
    

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