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Bond yields rise as Sweden ends negative rates, stocks gain

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity markets extended a rally on Thursday that has pushed U.S. and world stock benchmarks to record highs, while bond yields in Europe rose after Sweden stopped five years of negative interest rates, signalling the end of a sub-zero era.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Gold was little changed and the dollar was roughly flat as investors awaited U.S. gross domestic product data on Friday and investors shrugged off a report showing U.S. factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region has nearly stalled this month.

Stocks rose as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States and China would sign their phase one trade pact at the beginning of January. Mnuchin said it was completely finished and just undergoing a technical “scrub.”

The market shrugged off U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment, as the Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected to vote against removing him from office.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the world .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.18%, lifting the global benchmark to a new record, while the three major equity indices on Wall Street also hit fresh highs.

U.S. stocks will maintain an upward bias until the start of 2020, when investors will look for more specific details in the trade agreement, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 122.58 points, or 0.43%, to 28,361.86. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 13.22 points, or 0.41%, to 3,204.36 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 51.53 points, or 0.58%, to 8,879.27.

Stocks in Europe also edged higher. The pan-regional STOXX 600 index .STOXX rose 0.17%, and the blue-chip FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 of regional shares closed up 0.14%.

Earlier in Asia, stocks pulled back from a 1-1/2 year peak. Japan's Nikkei .N225 fell 0.3% and China's stocks slipped .CSI300 for the second session despite trade optimism.

Sweden’s Riksbank raised benchmark borrowing costs to zero from -0.25%, making the central bank the first of those around the world that had cut rates into negative territory to inch its way back to zero - long considered their floor.

Bond yields rose across the euro zone, with those in higher-rated countries such as Germany, France and the Netherlands up 3-4 basis points FR10YT=RRNL10YT=RR.

The yield on Germany's benchmark 10-year Bund rose to as much as -0.208% DE10YT=RR, a six-month high, up from -0.30% earlier in the week.

Policy rates are still negative at the European Central Bank and the Japanese, Danish, Swiss and Hungarian central banks. With the exception of Hungary, all are expected to remain so for some time. “The Riksbank is moving away from negative rates, and in the markets’ mind this is something that the ECB could try at some point,” said Peter McCallum, rates strategist at Mizuho.

Oil prices hovered near the highest in three months in thin pre-Christmas trading, buoyed by the previous day’s news that U.S. crude inventories declined and as U.S.-China trade tensions continued to ease.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 rose 37 cents to settle at $66.54 a barrel, heading for the sixth straight day of gains. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 settled up 29 cents at $61.22 a barrel.

The dollar index .DXY fell 0.01%, with the euro EUR= up 0.1% to $1.1122. The Japanese yen JPY= strengthened 0.23% versus the greenback at 109.29 per dollar.

The Swedish crown rose 0.09% versus the greenback at 9.41 per dollar.

Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 5/32 in price to yield 1.9082%.

U.S. gold futures GCv1 settled 0.4% higher to $1,484.40 an ounce.

Reporting by Herbert Lash, additional reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe in London, editing by Chris Reese and Chizu Nomiyama