Stocks, U.S. dollar rise as Trump amends previous comments on Syria

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street led stocks higher globally on Thursday, more than offsetting declines in Asia, as an expected strong earnings season took front seat after U.S. President Donald Trump cast doubt over the timing of his threatened strike on Syria.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The risk of clashes between Western powers and Russia in Syria over an alleged chemical attack eased somewhat as Trump reworded his Wednesday threat that missiles “will be coming” while taunting Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Trump wrote on Thursday that an attack on Syria “could be very soon or not so soon at all.” Later, he said decisions will be made “fairly soon.”

Investors turned their focus to U.S. corporate earnings as BlackRock BLK.N, the world's largest asset manager, reported quarterly profit above Wall Street estimates with its shares up 1.5 percent.

BlackRock's results boosted bank shares .SPXBK, which were the largest gainers on Thursday, likely on bets that increased exchange traded funds trading will benefit their bottom lines. Higher U.S. Treasury yields also gave banks support.

Analysts expect quarterly profit for U.S. benchmark S&P 500 index companies to rise 18.4 percent from a year ago, the biggest gain in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“We’re hearing less talk of firing missiles and less talk of trade war. Earnings are coming up and expectations are high,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director of institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee. The stock market, he said, is “returning to normal.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 293.6 points, or 1.21 percent, to 24,483.05, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 21.8 points, or 0.83 percent, to 2,663.99 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 71.22 points, or 1.01 percent, to 7,140.25.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 rose 0.67 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.37 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.11 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS closed 0.27 percent lower, while Japan's Nikkei .N225 lost 0.12 percent.

The higher risk appetite as geopolitical tensions eased boosted U.S. Treasury yields. The safe-haven Japanese yen also fell.

“There is less immediate concern about military strikes or action in Syria,” said Jim Vogel, interest rates strategist at FTN Financial in Memphis.

“It doesn’t move it to the back-burner, but it allows you to look around and trade other things and that gives room for rates to rise just a little bit from their sort of cramped or compressed levels,” he said.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR last fell 14/32 in price to yield 2.8413 percent, from 2.79 percent late on Wednesday.

The 30-year bond US30YT=RR last fell 26/32 in price to yield 3.0455 percent, from 3.005 percent late on Wednesday.

Oil prices fell initially as geopolitical concerns eased somewhat, but later rose, supported partly by shrinking global oil inventories.

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told Reuters in New Delhi the global oil glut has effectively shrunk by nine-tenths since the start of 2017.

“We have seen an accelerated shrinkage of stocks in storage from unparalleled highs of about 400 million barrels to about 43 million above the five-year average,” Barkindo said.

U.S. crude CLc1 rose 0.43 percent to $67.11 per barrel and Brent LCOcv1 was last at $72.09, up 0.04 percent on the day.

Both are at levels not seen since 2014.

(GRAPHIC: Middle East tensions drive crude prices -

The U.S. dollar index .DXY was on track to snap a four-day losing streak as it rose 0.21 percent, with the euro EUR= down 0.3 percent to $1.2328.

“It’s a reversal of the safe-haven trade that lifted the yen and the Swiss franc earlier in the week,” said Karl Schamotta, director of global product and market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.43 percent versus the greenback at 107.27 per dollar, while the dollar was up 0.48 percent against the Swiss franc CHF=.

Sterling GBP= was last trading at $1.4227, up 0.36 percent on the day.

Safe-haven gold XAU= fell from an 11-week high as the dollar edged higher and investors booked profits.

Spot gold XAU= dropped 1.3 percent to $1,335.06 an ounce. U.S. gold futures GCc1 fell 1.61 percent to $1,334.60 an ounce.

Copper CMCU3 lost 1.86 percent to $6,821.00 a ton.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, April Joyner, Chuck Mikolajczak, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler