* Euro pulls off 8-month low on euro zone PMI
* Emerging stocks near 17-month high on China PMI
* US tech stocks buoyed by Apple; Facebook at record high
By Carolyn Cohn
LONDON, July 24 The euro pulled off 8-month lows
against the dollar on Thursday after the bloc's private sector
expanded at its fastest rate in three months in July, and
emerging equities hovered near 17-month highs after strong
European stocks edged up too after digesting Markit's
Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of companies across
the euro zone and a good early indicator of overall growth. The
overall index rose to 54.0 in July from 52.8, its highest since
April. Any number above 50 indicates expansion.
The services sector across the 18-member bloc performed
better than any of the 39 economists polled by Reuters had
forecast, while manufacturers also reported a stronger month
than suggested by the median Reuters forecast
"The activity data offsets some of the weakness we saw last
month and that has helped the euro," said Geoff Yu, currency
strategist at UBS.
"But there are concerns about domestic growth in the euro
zone and possible sanctions on Russia are likely to have an
The euro hit the day's highs at $1.3471, pulling off
eight-month lows, while the dollar index dropped from an
earlier six-week peak. Against the yen, the U.S. dollar idled at
EU states will meet later on Thursday to discuss harsher
measures against Russia for its continued involvement in
Ukraine and support for pro-Moscow rebels whom Kiev accuses of
shooting down a Malaysian Airlines plane last week, killing 298.
European stocks rose 0.2 percent, reversing earlier
losses on mixed earnings data and relatively weak manufacturing
data from France, the euro zone's second largest economy.
Benchmark emerging market stocks, however, hovered
near the previous session's 17-month highs.
The HSBC flash PMI for China, the world's second-largest
economy, came in at 52.0 for July, well above forecasts and the
highest reading in 18 months. There was also good news on the
outlook, with a sub-index of new orders reaching 53.7.
The news helped China's index of leading Shanghai and
Shenzhen A-share jump 1.8 percent to its highest close
in more than three months.
Also helping sentiment was a better-than-expected U.S.
earnings season. Barclays estimates that of the 22 percent of
S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly results since July 1,
64 percent beat earnings expectations and 65 percent beat
Apple Inc rose 2.6 percent as concerns faded about
the iPhone maker's margins, taking the S&P 500 to a record
close. Facebook Inc beat forecasts and its stock climbed
5.5 percent after hours.
The prospect of low U.S. interest rates is also helping
equities and other riskier assets.
"Investors are relaxed about the outlook for Fed policy and
still hunting for yield," said Kit Juckes, strategist at Societe
Generale, in a client note.
S&P futures, however, pointed to a slightly lower
open on Wall Street.
The prospect of more sanctions against Russia over the
Ukraine crisis maintained a safety bid for high-rated bonds.
For U.S. Treasuries, investors were buying more liquid
shorter-dated paper, nudging two-year yields down to
0.4715 percent. But German Bund yields, which have
been trading near record lows on the sanctions threat, edged up
to 1.164 percent.
Safe-haven gold eased to 1,297.50 an ounce, close to
earlier one-week lows.
Crude oil prices ran into renewed selling after a bounce on
Wednesday. Brent crude for September delivery fell 26
cents to $107.77 a barrel, while U.S. crude lost 34 cents
(Additional reporting by Anirban Nag in London and Wayne Cole
in Sydney; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)