* Stock markets around world rise on Chinese data
* S&P 500 and Dow industrials climb to records
* Japan's Nikkei climbs to 5-year high on BOJ stimulus plan
* Yen near multi-year lows vs major currencies, euro climbs
NEW YORK, April 10 Chinese import data pushed
stock markets around the world higher on Wednesday with the S&P
500 rising to a record, while Japan's economic stimulus package
continued to weigh on the yen, sending it to multi-year lows
against the dollar and euro.
U.S. stocks rallied across benchmark indexes, with the Dow
Jones industrial average also reaching a record. Sentiment was
eroded early by the Federal Reserve's unexpected decision to
release the minutes of its last policy-setting meeting earlier
than scheduled but that was quickly ignored by most investors.
Instead it was economic data from China that set the mostly
positive tone throughout the global trading day. Imports of key
commodities rebounded in March, signaling rising domestic demand
to drive the world's second-largest economy.
The data boosted mining and basic resources stocks and
supported industrial commodities, including oil and aluminum.
"This is two pieces of Chinese economic data in a row that
have proven positive," said Art Hogan, managing director of
Lazard Capital Markets in New York. Data on Tuesday showed
annual consumer inflation in China cooled last month.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 91.52 points,
or 0.62 percent, at 14,764.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 11.96 points, or 0.76 percent, at 1,580.57. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 39.63 points, or 1.22
percent, at 3,277.49.
Financial shares helped lead the advance, with the S&P
financial sector index gaining 1.2 percent, while the
S&P information technology sector index gained 1.8
The unexpected release of the Fed policy minutes briefly
rattled investors. But after digesting the report, they viewed
the minutes as of lesser importance than the Chinese data.
Indeed, since the minutes indicated stimulus remains in
place for now, they may even have helped U.S. stocks in the
A few U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers expected to taper
the pace of asset purchases by mid-year and end them later this
year, while several others expected to slow the pace a bit later
and halt the quantitative easing program by year-end, according
to the minutes of the Fed's March meeting.
The MSCI all-world share index,, which
tracks stocks in 45 countries, rose 1.2 percent to its highest
level since March 18. At the peak, the percentage gain on the
index was the second best of 2013.
Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 1.8 percent.
European markets were bolstered by growing hopes of an
interest rate cut by the European Central Bank and by signs of
progress in dealing with the region's debt crisis after
international lenders said Ireland and Portugal should get more
time to repay their bailout loans.
In the currency markets, the yen hit a more than three-year
low against the euro and edged closer to 100 to the dollar as it
extended a slide triggered by the Bank of Japan's massive
monetary easing plan unveiled last Thursday.
But the same stimulus measure was a boon for Japanese
stocks. Japan's Nikkei index ended 0.7 percent higher at
its highest close since August 2008.
The euro is being supported by speculation that Japanese
investors, looking for higher returns as the BOJ action
depresses domestic yields, may turn to euro zone bonds.
The dollar was bid as the Fed minutes were seen as
maintaining the bias to end measures to stoke economic growth.
"Once again, the minutes have sounded a slightly more
hawkish tone and that's really what's benefiting dollar/yen,"
said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign
Exchange in Washington.
The euro was up 0.7 percent against the yen at 130.18 yen
, while the dollar was up 0.7 percent against the yen
at 99.72 yen. It touched a four-year low against the
The prospect of huge purchases of Japanese government bonds
by the BOJ is seen as likely to send investors on a hunt for
higher returns in assets denominated in currencies other than
the rapidly weakening yen.
Japanese government bond futures fell sharply on Wednesday,
prompting the Tokyo Stock Exchange to halt trading briefly while
the 10-year cash bond yield rose to a four-week high.
However, highly rated euro zone bond yields, which have
fallen on the hopes of Japanese demand, recovered from their
U.S. Treasury note yields were last at 1.785
In the oil market, signs of growing oil stocks weighed on
crude prices, leaving Brent futures down 0.4 percent at
$105.76 per barrel. U.S. crude was little changed at
$94.23 a barrel.