(Corrects headline and 3rd paragraph to clarify timing and
venue of Bernanke testimony)
* Dollar, shares grind higher post-Bernanke
* Nikkei rises, yen pressured ahead of elections
* Bunds five-week high, tracking U.S. Treasuries
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, July 18 Stock markets around the world
extended their rally on Thursday, with investors reassured that
U.S. central bank stimulus measures would be unwound with care,
while the yen and euro fell.
Japanese shares surged 1.3 percent, with market
participants looking ahead to upcoming Upper House elections.
The dollar gained 0.7 percent against the yen, to 100.28 yen.
The euro fell and the dollar rose against a basket of
currencies as the market waited for Ben Bernanke, chairman of
the U.S. Federal Reserve, to testify before Congress for a
second day, this time to the Senate Banking Committee.
On Wednesday, Bernanke reiterated to a House of
Representatives panel his recent assurances that the Fed will
only start phasing out its huge monetary support program once it
is sure the U.S. economy is strong enough to stand on its own
The comments lured investors to equities, lifting the Dow
Jones industrial average to a record Thursday and putting the
S&P 500 on track for its tenth positive session out of the past
"Bernanke has made equities the only place for most people
to go, and the rally has been entirely on him," said Mark Grant,
managing director at Southwest Securities in Fort Lauderdale.
As he speaks to Congress, Grant added, "Bernanke will stay
the course and calm markets as much as he can."
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 92.66 points,
or 0.60 percent, at 15,563.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 10.01 points, or 0.60 percent, at 1,690.92. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 10.26 points, or 0.28
percent, at 3,620.26.
U.S. stocks were also supported by strong quarterly reports
from IBM and Morgan Stanley, though shares of
Intel Corp were sold following its results. A jump in
regional factory activity also boosted sentiment.
The MSCI International ACWI Price Index rose
European equities rose 0.9 percent, outperforming
U.S. markets as the broad STOXX Europe 600 broke above a
The dollar rose 0.3 percent against a basket of
currencies while the euro was down 0.3 percent. The
benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 9/32,
with the yield at 2.5227 percent.
Market participants awaited a meeting in Moscow of G20
finance ministers for signs of an orchestrated approach to the
end of U.S. money-printing, which could help defuse volatility
in global markets.
The G20, which meets on Friday and Saturday, includes many
of the developing countries that have been at the sharp end of
the dollar's surge since Bernanke first signalled the Fed would
roll back its bond buying in May.
With no surprises expected from Bernanke later during his
congressional testimony, currency market were starting to focus
on Sunday's Upper House elections in Tokyo, which are expected
to strengthen the hand of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his
radical stimulus strategy.
'Abenomics', as Abe's $1.4-trillion plan is known, has
caused a 14-percent drop in the yen this year. \
Ian Stannard, head of European FX strategy at Morgan
Stanley, said he expected a further retreat once the Fed firms
up its support-withdrawal plans.
"The market is of the view the Abe administration will come
out of this very well, so post-election it will be an
interesting time because we could see the rhetoric around the
reform plans picking up," Stannard said.
"If this is the case, we will start to see the yen coming
under pressure again."
In debt markets, benchmark German Bunds edged 0.1
percent higher, hitting a five-week high.
An impending no-confidence vote against Portugal's ruling
coalition has turned the focus to peripheral euro zone debt.
The motion proposed by a minor party is likely to fail, but
markets will be on the lookout for any signals sent by the three
main parties, which are holding talks on a broad deal to keep
the country's bailout program on track.
Spain and France both saw smooth bond auctions on Thursday
despite a tougher backdrop, with Spain's prime minister fighting
a corruption scandal and France having just lost its last
triple-A sovereign credit rating from a major ratings agency.
Commodities, meanwhile, were mixed, with Brent oil
flat but U.S. crude futures jumping 0.9 percent as U.S.
stockpiles fell for a third straight week. Copper fell
0.2 percent while gold rose 0.5 percent.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)