* Gold hits three-week high as Ukraine tensions simmer
* Oil slips below $108 a barrel on Chinese factory data
* Yen at two-week high vs dollar on soft China data
(Adds close of U.S. markets)
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, May 5 Global equity markets were
steady on Monday as upbeat U.S. data offset a contraction in
Chinese manufacturing that renewed concerns about a slowing
economy in China, while escalating tensions in Ukraine
underpinned safe-haven gold.
Shares edged higher on Wall Street after European equity
markets declined, as Ukraine's interior minister drafted a new
special forces unit into Odessa and pro-Russian rebels shot down
a Ukrainian helicopter near the eastern town of Slaviansk.
The violence in Odessa, a southwestern port with a broad
ethnic mix, from Russians and Ukrainians to Georgians and
Tatars, was seen as a turning point in Kiev, encroaching for the
first time into an area beyond the Russian-speaking east.
U.S. equities rebounded after the Institute for Supply
Management said its services sector index rose to 55.2 in April,
the fastest pace in eight months, from 53.1 in March, topping
expectations for a read of 54.1. A reading above 50 indicates
The data provided further evidence that the U.S. economy is
emerging from a lackluster winter, a lull largely blamed on
"It's more confirmation the economy is strengthening and we
are headed for stronger growth," said Peter Cardillo, chief
market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
"Unfortunately, we had those headlines out of Ukraine where
the situation seems to be escalating, but once the market
realized the economy is doing better we saw the snapback."
MSCI's all-country world stock index pared
losses to trade flat, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX
50 index also pared some losses to close 0.21
percent lower at 3,171.29.
Markets in London were closed for a public holiday.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average
closed up 17.66 points, or 0.11 percent, to 16,530.55. The S&P
500 gained 3.52 points, or 0.19 percent, to 1,884.66, and
the Nasdaq Composite added 14.158 points, or 0.34
percent, to 4,138.055.
Shares of Apple Inc provided the most upside to the
S&P 500, gaining 1.4 percent to $600.96. It was the first time
since November 2012 that Apple, the largest U.S. company by
market capitalization, traded above $600.
Pfizer Inc, the biggest U.S. drugmaker, weighed on
the Dow Industrials after it reported revenue well below
expectations. Shares fell 2.6 percent to $29.96.
Gold prices hit three-week highs in thin trade, extending
the previous session's gains, fueled by the simmering tensions
in Ukraine. U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled
$6.40 higher at $1,309.30 an ounce.
The data on China's manufacturing sector weighed on crude
oil prices. A private survey on Monday showed that the Chinese
manufacturing sector contracted for a fourth consecutive month
HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index for April came in at
48.1, lower than a preliminary reading of 48.3, but up slightly
from an eight-month low of 48.0 in March. A reading below 50
Oil slipped below $108 a barrel.
Brent crude for June delivery fell 87 cents to
settle at $107.72 a barrel. U.S. crude settled down 28
cents at $99.48 a barrel.
The safe-haven yen rose to a two-week high against the
dollar on the Chinese data.
The greenback fell as low as 101.84 yen, its weakest
level since April 17 and down more than 1 yen from Friday's near
one-month high of 103.025 yen on trading platform EBS. It was
last trading at 102.14, down 0.04 percent on the day.
The dollar index was down 0.02 percent, while the
euro was 0.03 percent higher against the dollar at
U.S. Treasuries eased, giving up early gains, with the
10-year note down 4/32 to yield 2.6077 percent.
(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Catherine
Evans in London; Editing by Leslie Adler and Nick Zieminski)