February 1, 2018 / 10:27 AM / 2 months ago

GLOBAL-MARKETS-Equities battle rising global bond yields to snap end-Jan losing streak

* Europe, Asian shares rally

* Wall Street set for flat open, stock futures signal

* U.S., German yields hover at multi-year highs after Fed

* U.S. tech earnings eyed; Unilever, Shell buoy Europe (Updates throughout)

By Sujata Rao

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - European stocks rose on Thursday after three days of losses, although U.S. and German bond yields near multi-year highs checked gains in world stock markets and kept them from testing recent record highs.

Stock markets in Europe rose 0.25 percent, supported by a flurry of mostly positive earnings results, while Japan’s blue-chip stock index bounced 1.7 percent off four-week lows and MSCI’s all-country equity index was marginally higher.

U.S. equity futures however pointed to a flat open for Wall Street ahead of earnings announcements from tech giants Apple, Alphabet and Amazon.com .

January’s last trading session on Wall Street ended in the red, but U.S. indexes still ended with monthly gains of over 5 percent. World stocks enjoyed a record 15-month winning streak.

This week’s meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve was more hawkish than expected, but confirmed what markets had already expected - an interest rate rise is likely in March, said Markus Huber, a trader at brokerage City of London Markets.

“In light of today’s flood of earnings in Europe and the United States, the Fed meeting will most likely have only a limited and temporary impact on markets,” Huber predicted.

Global equity markets are torn between buoyant economic growth and double-digit company earnings, on the one hand, and the possibility that U.S. and euro zone central banks will tighten policy faster than expected.

The growth momentum was confirmed by manufacturing activity surveys on Thursday that showed Asian factories getting off to a strong 2018 start and Europe posting solid growth.

Boeing and Facebook were the latest to reinforce the solid U.S. earnings growth picture. European markets cheered improved performance at Unilever and Royal Dutch Shell

Huber said results from the likes of Amazon and Apple would be crucial.

“It will be essential that those companies not only deliver in regard to earnings expectations but also show that the momentum going forward remains strong,” he added.

Equity bullishness is being tempered, however, by rising global bond yields. The Fed held interest rates unchanged on Wednesday but raised its inflation outlook, no longer saying it expected price growth to stay below 2 percent. It also flagged “further gradual” rate increases.

That wording convinced many that rates could rise four times this year, rather than three.

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields surged to near four-year highs above 2.75 percent after the Fed statement, while German Bund yields on Thursday rose to fresh two-year highs at around 0.74 percent.

Two-year U.S. yields are near decade-highs and could rise further should jobs data due on Friday confirm sustained labour market strength. “Long-ended U.S. yields are still rising and that’s spilling over on the European market and (German) Bunds especially,” said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann.

Pressure is building on euro zone authorities, too, to curb stimulus, with employment at record highs and Thursday’s manufacturing surveys confirming the bloc’s growth boom.

On currency markets, the dollar’s post-Fed bounce fizzled, pushing it down 0.1 percent against a basket of currencies . The euro gained 0.2 percent to $1.2440, just off recent three-year highs of $1.2538.

The British pound rose 0.25 percent, after a 5 percent gain in January, its biggest monthly rise since May 2009, owing to broad dollar weakness and expectations of a Brexit deal more favourable to the UK.

The weak dollar trend will not be changed by Fed rate rises, ING Bank analysts predicted. Not only was policy tightening already priced in, economic recovery elsewhere and U.S. political uncertainty suggested “the overnight dollar strength is unlikely to transform into a trend,” they told clients.

Oil prices were higher after a survey showed OPEC’s commitment to its supply cuts remains in place, even as U.S. production topped 10 million barrels per day for the first time since 1970.

Reporting by Sujata Rao and additional Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo, Danilo Masoni in Milan and Fanny Potkin in London, editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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