* S&P 500 index inches toward all-time intraday high
* Safe-haven Treasuries, gold fall; copper hits 7-month low
* ECB, BOJ meet later this week; U.S. jobs report also due
By Wanfeng Zhou
NEW YORK, April 2 Major stock markets rose on
Tuesday, with the U.S. S&P 500 index nearing its all-time
intraday high, while the dollar rallied from a one-month low
against the yen on bets the Bank of Japan will announce further
monetary easing steps this week.
Gold fell to a 2-1/2 week low, pressured by a strengthening
dollar and as investors moved away from safe havens and bought
stocks. Other commodities retreated, with copper falling to a
seven-month low on worries about global economic growth.
Investors looked toward policy meetings this week by the
Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank, along with the U.S.
government's release on Friday of its payrolls report for March.
On Wall Street, stocks rebounded from the previous session's
decline. Healthcare shares surged on brighter earnings prospects
as the U.S. government dropped plans to decrease payments for
private Medicare Advantage insurers, opting instead to raise
them by 3.3 percent.
"Given how lean these companies are, this news is pretty
significant and could mean a 10 to 15 percent increase in
earnings," said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at
Federated Investors in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 75.11 points,
or 0.52 percent, to 14,647.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 7.33 points, or 0.47 percent, to 1,569.50. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 16.06 points, or 0.50
percent, to 3,255.24.
The S&P 500 set an all-time closing high last week, but has
stayed shy of its intraday record of 1,576.09.
European shares rallied after a two-week slide, boosted by
Vodafone on rumours of a multi-billion-pound break-up bid for
the UK telecoms group. Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index
gained 1.3 percent to end at 1203.79 points.
The broad MSCI world equity index rose 0.4
percent to 359.89 points.
The dollar rose 0.1 percent to 93.30 yen. The BoJ
meets on April 3-4 and is widely expected to ramp up its bond
buying and to extend the maturities of the bonds it purchases
under new Governor Haruhiko Kuroda.
The euro fell 0.2 percent to $1.2818 after Markit's
Eurozone Manufacturing PMI fell in March to 46.8 from 47.9 in
February, extending to a 20th month its run below the 50 mark
that separates growth and contraction.
The data boosted expectations European Central Bank
President Mario Draghi would strike a more dovish tone at
Thursday's monetary policy outlook meeting and could provide
hints about a possible rate cut.
"We expect euro zone fundamentals to deteriorate further.
This, combined with outflow pressures, should keep the euro's
downward trend intact," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency
strategist, at Scotiabank in Toronto.
Spot gold hit an intraday high of $1,603.60 an ounce,
then fell to $1,576.29 an ounce, down from $1,598.40 on Monday.
"You have a rally in equities and strength in the dollar and
that seems to be the focus right now, which is putting gold in
the back seat," HSBC analyst Howard Wen said.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) hit a
session low of $7,439 a tonne, its weakest since Aug. 21, and
closed at $7,465 a tonne. Disappointing manufacturing data from
the euro zone, the United States and China stoked demand worries
for the metal used in power and construction.
Silver also dipped to its lowest since mid-August at
$27.53 an ounce, while platinum and palladium lost
more than 1 percent.
Oil prices declined as ample supplies and concerns over the
pace of economic recoveries in the United States and Europe
outweighed the prospect of stronger demand in Asia.
Brent slid 44 cents to $110.64 a barrel. U.S. crude
was down 5 cents to $97.02.
Safe-haven government debt prices also declined. Benchmark
10-year Treasury notes were down 9/32, their yields
rising to 1.8659 percent from 1.84 percent on Monday. German
Bund futures also fell.