* Stocks rise on efforts to resolve Ukraine crisis
* Euro hits year high after ECB signals no stimulus
* Investors shift focus on U.S. payrolls data due Friday
* Bonds fall, oil stabilizes, gold rebounds
By Richard Leong
NEW YORK, March 6 World share markets rose on
Thursday, supported by hopes that diplomatic efforts would cool
the crisis in Ukraine, while the euro advanced to its highest
level of the year after the European Central Bank signaled the
euro zone needs no additional stimulus.
The latest developments in Ukraine, while still worrisome,
have not caused investors to back away from stocks and risky
investments on a global scale, as occurred on Monday.
"The markets have adapted to this fluid situation," said
Gerardo Rodriguez, senior investment strategist for BlackRock's
Emerging Markets group in New York.
MSCI's world equity index, which tracks
shares in 45 countries, was up 0.5 percent, and the MSCI
emerging market index rose 1.1 percent.
Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia and its
Moscow-backed government set a referendum for 10 days' time on
the decision in a dramatic escalation of the crisis in the
Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula.
U.S. President Barack Obama took steps to punish those
involved in threatening Ukraine while European Union leaders
agreed to suspend visa and investment talks with Russia.
These events reminded investors that the dispute is far from
being resolved but the risk of war has faded.
"Right now, the biggest threat has diminished," said Kathy
Jones, fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab in New York.
European central bankers offset the geopolitical worries
when, as expected, they left interest rates unchanged but
offered no signal the ECB will implement unconventional measures
such as bond purchases to avert the threat of excessively low
inflation and underpin a fragile recovery.
The Bank of England, also meeting on Thursday, kept interest
rates unchanged, seeking to give the economy more time to build
momentum before removing stimulus.
The ECB's show of restraint on monetary stimulus bolstered
the euro, boosting it to $1.3857, the highest since late
December, according to Reuters data.
The euro zone common currency bought 142.72 yen,
up 1.6 percent from late on Wednesday but still below the high
of 145.09 set on Jan. 1.
European stocks were also supported by the ECB's decision.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index tracking Europe's top shares
ended little changed at 1,344.56.
"European stocks have been quite resilient in the face of
the multiple shocks, from the Fed's tapering to the Ukrainian
crisis, even though risks seem limited," said Francois
Chevallier, a strategist at Banque Leonardo in Paris.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose
69.61 points or 0.43 percent, to 16,429.79, the S&P 500
gained 3.74 points or 0.2 percent, to 1,877.55 and the Nasdaq
Composite dropped 6.985 points or 0.16 percent, to
4,350.989. The S&P 500 had set a record close on Tuesday.
Earlier, Tokyo's Nikkei closed up 1.6 percent.
Russian shares were a notable exception, falling nearly 1
percent, while the ruble weakened 0.5 percent against the
U.S. dollar at 36.2190 rubles.
Due to the resilience in stock prices, investors further
pared their holdings in less risky U.S. and German government
bonds. The yield on U.S. 10-year Treasuries rose 4
basis points to 2.73 percent, while the yield on 10-year Bunds
gained 5 basis points to 1.65 percent.
In the oil market, Brent crude was last up 36 cents,
or 0.33 percent, at $108.12 a barrel. U.S. crude was last
up 11 cents, or 0.11 percent, at $101.56 per barrel.
Gold traded in a right range with investors awaiting cues
from Friday's U.S. jobs data and developments in Ukraine. It
rose $12.95 or 0.97 percent, to $1,349.96 an ounce.
As markets calmed after gyrating on Russia-West tension this
week over the Ukraine crisis, investors have shifted their focus
to the U.S. payrolls data due 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) on Friday,
which might show anemic hiring due to harsh winter weather
across much of the country.
Economists polled by Reuters forecast U.S. employers likely
hired 149,000 workers in February, compared with 113,000 in
January, while the unemployment rate likely held at a five-year
low of 6.6 percent.