* European shares rise on corporate earnings, easier oil
* Brent crude oil prices fall below $103 on ample supplies
* Sterling noses up before Bank of England inflation report
By Mike Dolan
LONDON, Aug 13 World stock markets ticked higher
on Wednesday as brighter corporate results offset gloomy
economic news from Asia and as oil prices plumbed 13-month lows
as ample supply offset disruption risks posed by tensions in
Iraq and Libya.
European shares gained ground, helped in part by
forecast-beating results from bellwethers such as Swiss Life
- whose stock jumped 3.5 percent after the open.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares
was up 0.4 percent, with MSCI's world stock index
up 0.6 percent.
Recent market anxiety over the standoff between Russia and
Ukraine ebbed slightly after Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw
Sikorski said late on Tuesday that the possibility of Russia's
military invading eastern Ukraine has receded after Moscow
agreed to send in humanitarian aid under Red Cross auspices.
Russian shares rose 0.4 percent on the reports that the aid
convoy would cross the border under Red Cross supervision.
"The market is rangebound for now, with the focus on the
tense situation in Ukraine, as well as on GDP figures for
Germany and France due tomorrow," IG France chief market analyst
Alexandre Baradez said.
"There's a lot of confusion about the Russian humanitarian
convoy heading to Ukraine."
Brent crude slipped below $103 a barrel to trade at its
lowest level in more than a year as supply continued strong.
September Brent crude futures, which expire on Thursday,
fell as low as $102.37, the weakest for a front-month since July
1, 2013. It was the fourth day of losses for the benchmark and
comes after the International Energy Agency (IEA) pointed to
well-supplied global markets and a glut in the Atlantic Basin.
Output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries rose to a five-month high of 30.44 million barrels per
day (bpd) in July as increased production from Saudi Arabia and
Libya more than offset declines in Iraq, Iran and Nigeria.
"Brent prices have been in a steady decline and I think the
background of that is that the market is forming the view that
any supply disruptions are not on the immediate horizon," CMC
Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said.
But subpar global economic numbers were also a factor in
generally weak commodity prices. Copper, seen as a barometer of
world demand, fell to a six-week low of $6,926.50 per tonne on
Asian shares eked out modest gains, even though mainland
Chinese shares were knocked off their highs by surprisingly weak
loans data. Data also showed Japan's economy shrank an
annualised 6.8 percent from the previous quarter - the biggest
contraction in three years - but the outcome was slightly better
than market forecasts.
German government bond yields edged higher on Wednesday
before an auction of 10-year German debt, but they remained near
record lows amid jitters about the economic fallout in Germany
and the rest of Europe from the Ukraine crisis.
German inflation for July was confirmed at 0.8 percent
year-on-year, showing how weak inflationary pressures are even
in the region's strongest economy. Euro zone industrial output
will be released later in the day and second-quarter gross
domestic product reports from across the region are due on
German 10-year yields rose 1 basis point to
1.07 percent, not far from last week's record low of 1.02
percent. Yields usually rise before debt sales as traders make
room in their books for the new paper, but analysts expected
them to be pinned at record lows in the near term.
"The underlying sentiment remains weak. Until these
geopolitical tensions start easing, investors will continue to
look for the safety of top-rated assets," RIA Capital Markets
bond strategist Nick Stamenkovic said.
In currency markets, sterling edged up as investors trimmed
bets against the currency before a Bank of England report, that
may give clues on when Britain will start to tighten monetary
The Bank of England's Inflation Report, which will include
updated economic forecasts, is likely to provide a fresh steer
on the BoE's intentions for rate hikes. The bank has said before
that rate hikes will be data driven and gradual.
The pound edged up 0.1 percent against the dollar to $1.6825
, pulling away from Tuesday's two-month low of $1.6757.
Data on wages - a driver of inflation and an indicator of
how much slack remains in the labour market - is due before the
Inflation Report and could prove important.
(Additonal reporting by Blaise Robinson in Paris, Anirban Nag
in London, Seng Li Peng in Singapore, Hideyuki Sano and Lisa
Twaronite in Tokyo; Editing by Louise Ireland)