* Dollar up on Italy deadlock and U.S. spending cuts
* European shares gain on confidence in central bank support
* U.S. factory, jobless claims help lift sentiment
NEW YORK, Feb 28 Global stock markets rose on
Thursday, boosted by encouraging U.S. economic data and renewed
confidence that major central banks will keep taking steps to
support their economies, while the dollar gained against the
The political stalemate in Italy, along with looming U.S.
federal budget cuts, spurred the dollar's gains.
A drop in new U.S. claims for jobless benefits last week and
a sharp rise in factory activity in the Midwest in February
added to recent data that suggests the U.S. economy is
The U.S. Commerce Department said gross domestic product
rose 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter - reversing a previous
reading showing a contraction, but less than the 0.5 percent
gain forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.
Investors, however, largely shrugged off the anemic economic
growth of the fourth quarter to focus on a brighter picture in
"The jobless claims continue to show further signs of
improvement in the labor market. It's encouraging," said Andrew
Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co LLC in
"We knew that it was a bad quarter, and we knew that there
was a confluence of negative inputs such as from government
inventories," he said of the fourth-quarter GDP. "We don't
expect this to continue in 2013."
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 24.58 points,
or 0.17 percent, at 14,099.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 4.38 points, or 0.29 percent, at 1,520.37. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 9.39 points, or 0.30
percent, at 3,171.65.
The Dow earlier touched 14,143.84, within 60 points of its
record intraday high.
The U.S. stock market lacks catalysts as it digests its
recent move higher, according to Kevin Caron, market strategist
at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey, where he
helps oversee $120 billion in assets under management.
"That's why I think you're seeing a fairly listless trading
environment today," Caron said.
MSCI's all-country world equity index rose
0.5 percent, while in Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index
of top regional shares rose 0.9 percent to close at
The dollar rose against the euro as investors embraced its
perceived safety against the backdrop of the Italian stalemate
and less than 24 hours before automatic federal spending cuts
start taking effect in the United States.
The euro last traded at $1.3084, down 0.4 percent on
The euro's upside is seen as limited by concerns that
political instability will stall Italian economic reforms and
reignite the euro-zone debt crisis.
U.S. CRUDE ENDS DOWN
In oil markets, U.S. oil for April delivery slipped
71 cents to $92.05 a barrel.
Gold headed toward its longest run of monthly declines in
more than 16 years as an improved economic outlook and reduced
concerns about inflation blunted its appeal to investors.
Spot gold fell 0.6 percent to $1,587.66 per ounce, on
course for a monthly drop of about 4 percent. The precious metal
has been in the red for five straight months - the longest such
losing streak since late 1996 to early 1997.
U.S. Treasuries rose as the potentially growth-damping
impact of prospective U.S. government spending cuts fed the bid
for safe-haven U.S. debt.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note gained
3/32 in price to yield 1.8894 percent.