* Retail sales, consumer sentiment data below expectations
* Gold at 5-week low as Fed liquidity curbs weigh
* Report on Summers as next Fed chief briefly lifts dollar
* U.S. stocks advance, help global equity markets rebound
By David Gaffen and Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, Sept 13 Global equity market rose on
Friday even as weak U.S. economic reports kept many investors on
edge before next week's key Federal Reserve meeting, while gold
posted its worst week since June as concerns eased about a
potential strike against Syria.
U.S. Treasuries edged higher after weak consumer sentiment
and retail sales data bolstered the view that Fed policymakers
will slow an exit from its $85 billion a month bond-buying
program designed to boost American economic growth.
U.S consumer confidence ebbed early this month and retail
sales advanced just slightly in August, the latest indications
of an economy barely chugging ahead.
The sluggish pace of activity was underscored by another
report on Friday showing an energy-led rise in wholesale prices
last month, with underlying inflation pressures subdued.
The soft data was unlikely to deter the Fed from cutting its
massive bond-buying as early as next week, analysts said.
Stocks on Wall Street moved higher, putting the benchmark
S&P 500 on track for its largest weekly gain in two months.
"The market is up slightly today but everybody seems to be
worried about what the tapering is going to be," said Brian
Amidei, managing director at HighTower Advisors in Palm Desert,
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 69.24 points,
or 0.45 percent, at 15,369.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 4.10 points, or 0.24 percent, at 1,687.52. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.59 points, or 0.12
percent, at 3,720.56.
U.S. stocks will remain range-bound until resolution of next
week's Fed meeting, the ongoing U.S.-Russian talks on Syria and
the looming fiscal crisis in Washington, said Jim Paulsen, chief
investment officer at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis.
"The data coming out is too good to allow (the market) to
fall very far," but there is little clarity to help push it much
higher, Paulsen said.
Bond prices sold off overnight and the dollar staged a rally
on a report in Japan's Nikkei business daily that former
Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers would soon be named the
Fed's new chief to replace Ben Bernanke.
While traders had doubts about the source of the report,
analysts said the market reaction highlighted the sensitivity of
investors to the possibility of Summers taking over the Fed.
Investors say Summers might tighten monetary policy faster
than the other main candidate, Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen.
Asked about the Nikkei story, a White House spokeswoman
said Obama had not made his decision about the Fed job.
MSCI's measure of global shares rose 0.05
percent and its emerging markets index fell 0.4
European equities advanced for a second straight week and
set a 3-1/2-month high, with merger and acquisition activity in
the healthcare and media sectors underpinning the market.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index leading European shares
rose 0.24 percent to close at 1,250.26.
Gold fell 1 percent on Friday and almost 6 percent for the
week, its biggest weekly loss since the second to last week of
U.S. gold futures for December settled down $22 at
$1,308.60 an ounce.
Spot gold last traded just below break-even at
$1,318.86 an ounce.
"As tensions with Syria cool down, the risk premium that had
quickly pushed the gold market sharply higher is now being taken
off very quickly," said Sean McGillivray, head of asset
allocation at Great Pacific Wealth Management.
The dollar weakened against the euro and yen, while the
yield on benchmark Treasuries fell, as investors adjusted
positions ahead of the Fed meeting.
The dollar was down 0.01 percent against a basket of major
currencies and while 10-year U.S. Treasury yields
fell to 2.8921 percent, up 3/32 in price.
"In the coming months, given that the new Fed chairman
starts in January, the Summers effect, if it is announced, could
be as dominant" as the Fed's tapering decision, said Mike
Gallagher, managing director of IDEAglobal.
Gallagher said of a Fed tapering decision and the prospect
of Summers becoming chairman could set 10-year Treasury yields
on a course toward 3.5 percent by year's end.
Such a move would hit other markets hard, as others expect
the benchmark 10-year yield, which moves inversely to the price
of the bond, to remain around 3 percent.
A successful Summers nomination is far from certain, and any
appointment must be approved by the U.S. Senate.
Brent crude prices rebounded late in the session as
uncertainty over U.S.-Russian negotiations over Syria's chemical
weapons put investors back on edge.
The Brent crude futures contract for October, which
expires on Friday, rose 15 cents to settle at $112.78 a barrel,
and U.S. crude settled down 39 cents at $108.21 a barrel.