* Upbeat economic data, central banks support shares
* Wall Street seen softer at open
* UK central bank leaves policy unchanged as expected
* Oil dips on ample supplies
By Richard Hubbard
LONDON, May 9 Investors pulled some profits from
soaring European and Japanese shares on Thursday, although a run
of relatively upbeat economic data and ongoing support from
central banks kept equities near multi-year highs.
U.S. stock futures also slipped suggesting a subdued Wall
Street open where this week's rally has taken the Standard &
Poor's 500 Index and the Dow Jones industrial average
to all time highs.
Oil prices dipped on a combination of weaker demand and
rising supplies, while the dollar trimmed some of its losses
both against the euro and yen after weekly jobless claims fell.
Europe's broad FTSE Eurofirst 300 index slipped
from a near five-year high to be down 0.1 percent. Germany's DAX
and Britain's FTSE 100 was flat.
Robust German factory activity and China's stronger than
expected trade performance have boosted investor sentiment this
week with the mood enhanced by data showing strong UK industrial
output in March and jobs growth in Australia and New Zealand.
However, the data hasn't been strong enough to spark any
concerns about the current flow of cash from major central
banks, which has been behind a rally across the markets.
"Growing evidence of economic revival, including the U.S.
employment figures last Friday, have given us a three month
sweet patch here where stocks could add another 10 or 15
percent," said Nick Beecroft, senior market analyst at Saxo
Beecroft said the three months covered the run up to the
German elections in September, which were likely to be next
watershed event for financial markets.
The MSCI world index, which tracks stocks in
45 countries, was down 0.15 percent on Thursday but not far from
the five-year highs hit this week, driven mainly by the loose
monetary policies of the world's big central banks.
Earlier MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan edged up 0.1 percent despite data showing
China's annual consumer inflation rising more than expected in
April and its factory prices falling.
The euro fell against the British pound when the
Bank of England, as expected, kept interest rates on hold and
left its asset buying programme unchanged at its latest policy
Britain's central bank held off from any further easing in
policy after a string of improving economic numbers pointed to a
pick up in growth during the second quarter.
"Despite the recent improved news on the UK economy, we
believe it is still more a question of when the Bank of England
will pull the quantitative easing trigger again, Howard Archer,
chief European and UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said.
Britain also reported that industrial output rose a
more-than-expected 1.1 percent in March though it was down on
the year ago level.
Spanish bond yields rose on speculation Madrid may be
planning another bond sale after borrowing costs fell at
Thursday's auction of just over 4.5 billion euros of new debt.
The country's 10-year bond yields were 8 basis points higher
at 4.19 percent, and have moved away from the
2-1/2 year lows of 3.95 percent touched last week when the ECB
cut rates and said it would consider further policy easing.
In the oil market Brent crude fell below $104 a barrel
. Worries about future demand and signs of rising
supplies pointed to a growing surplus of fuel worldwide.
"Oil supply is improving and demand growth is not as rapid
as expected," said Natixis oil analyst Abhishek Deshpande.
The ample supply was highlighted on Wednesday by EIA data
showing U.S. commercial stockpiles of crude hit 395.5 million
barrels in the week to May 3, the highest level since the
government agency began records in 1982.
U.S. crude futures fell 0.8 percent at $95.84 a
barrel and Brent was down 0.6 percent at $103.70.