* Surprise decline in U.S. unemployment benefits buoys
* Record drop in PC sales pulls U.S. tech shares lower
* MSCI world equity index up 0.5 pct to five-year highs
* Yen remains under pressure from BOJ stimulus
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, April 11 World equity markets rallied
for a fourth day on Thursday, lifted by a surprise drop in
Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week, while crude
fell on a cut in global demand forecasts as U.S. oil supplies
hit a two-decade high.
Equity markets were also supported by Japan's aggressive
monetary easing and signs of a growing recovery in China.
The 42,000 drop in initial claims for state unemployment
benefits to a seasonally adjusted 346,000 could ease fears of a
marked deterioration in U.S. labor market conditions after a
surprise stumble in job growth in March.
Wall Street rose despite news of a 14 percent plunge in
personal computer sales in the first quarter, the sharpest drop
in two decades of record-keeping, which pulled Microsoft Corp.
, Intel Corp. and other technology-related
The plunge marks a new milestone in the apparent ebbing of
the PC age as computing goes mobile via tablets and smartphones.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 74.23 points,
or 0.50 percent, at 14,876.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 7.33 points, or 0.46 percent, at 1,595.06. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 2.96 points, or 0.09
percent, at 3,300.22.
MSCI's all-country world index rose 0.7
percent, a day after posting its second-best gain of the year.
European shares rose as bumper gains for asset managers
benefiting from this year's equity rally lifted financial
Fund managers and traders said even if there was a pull-back
it would not be enough to stop European equity markets from
gradually rising higher over the course of the year.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional
shares closed up 0.56 percent at 1,192.87.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 advanced
0.5 percent to 2,674.33.
Italian and Spanish government bond yields crept higher as
investors took profits on recent gains in lower-rated debt,
which has been driven by demand for yield in an easy monetary
Since the Bank of Japan unveiled its radical stimulus
program a week ago, the dollar has gained about 7 percent,
yields on major government bonds have fallen and MSCI's world
equity index has hit levels last seen in June 2008.
The latest gains in equities have been helped by evidence of
an economic recovery in China - notably signs of growing
domestic demand and easier credit - and by indications from the
European Central Bank last week that it may cut rates.
"The stronger-than-expected Japanese liquidity surge has led
us to reassess our views on risky assets," said Salman Ahmed,
fixed income strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up
5/32 in price to yield 1.7861 percent.
Brent crude oil fell below $105 per barrel, not far above an
eight-month low, after analysts cut forecasts for global oil
demand growth and U.S. crude oil stocks increased to their
highest level in more than two decades.
Brent futures were down $1.55 to $104.24 a barrel.
U.S. crude futures fell $1.21 to 93.43 a barrel.
The dollar fell from a four-year high against the yen but
still looked to strengthen above the 100 level in the near term
as traders bet the Bank of Japan's aggressive monetary easing
will trigger further yen weakness.
The dollar was last down 0.24 percent at 99.53 yen,
having risen as high as 99.87 yen on Wednesday, the strongest
level since April 2009.