NEW YORK Shares on major world markets rose slightly on Thursday on better-than-expected corporate earnings and economic data while the dollar rallied to a four-year high against the yen on expectations Bank of Japan will ease monetary policy next week.
Wall Street eked out small gains on stronger-than-forecast results from Procter & Gamble (PG.N). But it was not enough to motivate investors reeling from sharp declines in recent days.
The broad S&P 500 lost 3.6 percent over the last five sessions, and a string of high-profile disappointments pointing to weak global demand have sapped buying enthusiasm after what had been a strong run in 2012.
Adding to concerns, U.S. durable goods orders excluding volatile defense goods and aircraft were unchanged and business investment showed signs of stalling.
"Global concerns are always in the background and people haven't forgotten about it. That's what markets on Friday and earlier this week told us," said Jaewoo Nakajima, associate managing director at International Strategy and Investment Group in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 26.57 points, or 0.20 percent, to 13,103.91. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 4.23 points, or 0.30 percent, at 1,412.98. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 4.42 points, or 0.15 percent, at 2,986.12.
European shares edged up after reassuring updates from drugmaker Sanofi (SASY.PA) and consumer goods group Unilever (ULVR.L), although some traders said euro zone concerns would curb further gains. The FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed up 0.2 percent at 1,095.90 points.
However, the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index .STOXX50E fell 0.3 percent to 2,483.43 as financial stocks declined.
The MSCI world stock index .MIWD00000PUS rose 0.3 percent.
Economic indicators from outside the United States were less disappointing. Data showed Britain emerged from recession in the third quarter, while a survey showed Chinese orders were at their highest levels in months.
After the bell, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) reported quarterly revenue that met Wall Street expectations, even as iPad sales were disappointing. The stock fell 1.5 percent in extended trade.
But online retailer Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) reported a large quarterly loss, sending its shares down 6 percent after hours.
As of Thursday morning, with about 244 companies in the S&P 500 reporting results so far, 62.3 percent have beaten profit expectations, a slight improvement on the typical long-term average of 62 percent, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Revenue this quarter has been less than stellar, with just 36.3 percent of companies reporting higher-than-expected revenue - compared with a long-term average of 62 percent.
BOJ EASING BETS
The dollar climbed to a four-month peak against the yen, boosted by a rise in Treasury yields and expectations the Bank of Japan will ease monetary policy next week. However, the greenback's rally could fade given the extent of its recent gains.
The greenback has gained 3 percent versus the yen so far in October, its strongest monthly performance since February. Expectations that the BoJ will take action on October 30 to stimulate the Japanese economy and higher U.S. Treasury yields have made the dollar more attractive to investors.
U.S. benchmark Treasury yields touched a five-week high a day after the Federal Reserve stuck to its monetary policy, prompting some bond market investors to book profits.
The price of the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 8/32 to yield 1.8206 percent.
Brent crude futures edged higher after seven straight sessions of losses, as the threat of Hurricane Sandy to East Coast gasoline and heating oil supplies lifted markets.
Brent December crude rose 64 cents to settle at $108.49 a barrel. U.S. December crude rose 32 cents to settle at $86.05 a barrel, having reached a high of $86.75.
(Editing by Dan Grebler)