* Beige Book helps lift dollar on heels of upbeat NY data
* European car sales, Japan orders add to optimism
* Equities supported near peaks, gold weakens
* Euro zone periphery bonds extend rally
By Toni Vorobyova
LONDON, Jan 16 Global stocks steadied around
six-year peaks and the dollar rose on Thursday, held aloft by
robust data from Europe, the United States and Japan as well as
upbeat corporate earnings.
European car sales posted their strongest gain in four years
in December, while in Japan core machinery orders jumped in
November, a sign companies may be ready to ramp up investment
and increase wages.
Sentiment has also been lifted in the past day by data
showing manufacturing in New York state hit a 20-month high this
month, one of the first glimpses of U.S. economic activity this
That has helped the dollar regain some of its swagger after
being battered by the surprisingly weak U.S. non-farm payroll
report at the end of last week.
The Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book published late on
Wednesday that the world's biggest economy continued to grow at
a moderate pace late last year, and some regions expected a
pick-up in growth.
Thursday's data is expected to feature a fall in weekly U.S.
The dollar rose 0.2 percent to 104.72 yen, adding to
a 0.3 percent rise overnight and bouncing back from a four-week
low of 102.85 set on Monday.
Economic optimism weighed on safe-haven gold prices - which
edged lower for a third day in a row - but benefited
equities. The MSCI all-country world index held
firm at 407.17 points, just 1.38 points below a six-year high.
The MSCI world index, which strips out the recently weak
emerging markets, rose as high as 1,661.33 points, a level not
seen since November 2007.
"For the first time in a while, the global economic recovery
is driven by developed countries, and central banks remain very
accommodative. All in all, the environment is favourable to
risky assets," said Pascal Voisin, chief executive officer of
Natixis Asset Management, which has 292 billion euros ($398
billion) under management.
The Standard & Poor's 500 climbed to an all-time
closing high on Wednesday on the back of the economic data and
strong quarterly earnings from Bank of America.
The onus on Thursday's earnings reports - which include
American Express, Blackrock, Citigroup, Goldman
Sachs and Intel - is to back up the relatively
upbeat picture so far.
Only around 5 percent of S&P 500 companies have already
reported fourth quarter earnings, but on average they are
beating consensus by 1.4 percent, according to StarMine data.
That does, however, mark some discrepancy between sectors.
"The interesting thing to note is that the worst (U.S.)
sector for revenue and earnings misses has been the retail
sector, which has accounted for about half of the earnings
disappointments thus far," Jim Reid, strategist at Deutsche
Bank, said in a note.
In Europe, too, consumer stocks have proved the weak spot,
with Dutch grocer Ahold and Swiss watch and jewellery
marker Richemont both missing quarterly sales
expectations. Their shares fell 3.5 and 1.9 percent
respectively, keeping the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index
below recent 5-1/2 year highs.
Overall, though, sentiment on the region remained upbeat.
Peripheral euro zone bond prices extended their rally with
expectations of a pick-up in global growth likely to increase
the demand from overseas for higher-yielding euro zone bonds.
Underscoring such demand, Spain sold more debt than planned
at a triple bond auction on Thursday.
Global economic optimism, however, failed to lift oil
prices, with Brent crude falling below $107 a barrel on
expectations of more supply from the Middle East and North