* U.S. stocks higher as Wall Street reopens after 2-day
* European shares up 0.2 pct, set for 5th monthly rise
* Euro holds within recent ranges ahead of U.S. jobs data
* Oil above $109 a barrel as U.S. east coast refineries
By Richard Hubbard
LONDON, Oct 31 World shares and the euro edged
up on Wednesday as a storm-hit Wall Street began trading after
its two-day closure and investors looked ahead to economic data
later in the week.
In early trading the Dow Jones industrial average was
up 0.6 percent at 13,187.23 points, while the Standard & Poor's
500 Index rose 0.4 percent to 1,417.75 points.
However, with transport into and around New York City
limited and wide-scale power outages making it hard for many
traders to work from home, volumes were expected to be thin.
Investors were also standing back from the markets ahead of
some major data releases, including October surveys of
manufacturing activity in China and the United States on
Thursday and the monthly U.S. jobs report on Friday.
Caution has also increased over the tight U.S. presidential
election race as Tuesday's vote nears, with traders trying to
assess its implications for resolving the fiscal problems facing
Washington, which could stall the economic recovery.
"Until we get to the other side of the election, the other
side of payrolls and the other side of this mess in New York,
the market is going to think twice about taking risk of any
significant size," said Ned Rumpeltin, head of G10 FX strategy
at Standard Chartered Bank.
The euro rose 0.3 percent against the dollar to
$1.2990, its strongest in nearly a week, though still within the
$1.28 to $1.32 range seen since mid-September.
The MSCI world equity index was up 0.2
percent at 329.80 points; it remains on track for its first
monthly loss since May but has gained over 10 percent so far
EURO OUTLOOK CLOUDED
The outlook for the European single currency was clouded by
uncertainty over when Spain may apply for a bailout - a move
that would allow the European Central Bank to buy its bonds -
and over whether Greece will agree to more austerity measures
and reforms. But the euro gained support on Wednesday from some
improving economic data across the region.
Euro zone inflation eased as expected in October thanks to
slower growth in energy prices, while German retail sales rose
in September at their fastest pace since June 2011, reinforcing
a view that private consumption will remain a pillar of support
for the economy.
Consumer spending in France also inched up 0.1 percent in
September, rebounding from a 0.8 percent fall in August, though
most analysts had expected better.
However, unemployment is still an unfolding disaster in the
euro zone, with 146,000 more people joining the ranks of the
jobless, which have swelled to 18.49 million, or 11.6 percent of
the workforce of the 17-nation currency bloc.
"The euro-zone unemployment rate looks set to rise further,
placing more pressure on struggling households," said Ben May,
European economist at Capital Economics.
European stocks did manage to add to their solid gains for
the month thanks to some good earnings reports, though
uncertainty over the reaction on Wall Street to the economic
impact of super storm Sandy was also keeping many investors
The FTSE Eurofirst index of top European shares was
up 0.2 percent at 1,107 points, bringing its gains for the year
to date to over 10.5 percent after five straight monthly rises.
Germany's DAX index gained 0.6 percent, due in part
to strong profits by airline Lufthansa, but London's
FTSE 100 fell following an 18-percent share price drop
for oil and gas firm BG Group after it said it did not
expect its production to grow at all next year.
In the oil market, the after-effects of Sandy on the U.S.
east coast were still being assessed, with reduced fuel demand
expected as roads and airports remain shut, even as refineries
in the region slowly resumed operations.
"We may have a rapid return of supply, but the demand will
be slower to recover," said Tony Nunan, a risk manager at
Brent crude for December delivery was up 30 cents at
$109.38 a barrel, while U.S. crude for December rose 57
cents to $86.25, still on track for the biggest monthly loss
Trading of oil, natural gas and other commodity futures and
options run by the CME Group at the NYMEX world
headquarters in New York resumed on Wednesday, but the U.S.
Energy Department has delayed its weekly petroleum inventory
report by a day to Thursday.
Gold inched up 0.6 percent to $1,720 an ounce, but
it, too, is on course for its biggest monthly decline since May,
at more than 3 percent.
Mitsui Precious Metals analyst David Jollie said gold was
likely to remain in a narrow range in the near term due to
uncertainty before next week's U.S. election.
"People are not keen to add risk to their portfolios ahead
of that," Jollie said.