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Corporate earnings boost most stocks, oil surges higher

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks ended mixed on Wednesday while most other global shares rose, as investors were drawn to riskier assets because of upbeat earnings from companies in Europe and the United States.

The U.S. dollar clung to gains amid fading concerns over a global trade war, while oil soared on a reported decline in U.S. crude inventories and the possibility of supply disruptions.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe touched its highest since March 21 and was last up 0.43 percent.

The index was supported by a higher open on Wall Street following the latest batch of earnings. Morgan Stanley shares rose 3 percent after the bank reported a 40 percent jump in quarterly profit, driven by its trading business. Its shares ended the day up only 0.4 pct, however.

“Earnings continue to progress on the positive side and commodities are also on the rise; that should give the markets another boost,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Stocks bounced around, dipping after a Federal Reserve report saying that robust business borrowing, rising consumer spending and tight labor markets indicate the U.S. economy remains on track for continued growth, with trade war risks the one big outlier.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 38.56 points, or 0.16 percent, to 24,748.07, the S&P 500 gained 2.25 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,708.64 and the Nasdaq Composite added 14.14 points, or 0.19 percent, to 7,295.24.

Investors appeared to be focusing on fundamentals after weeks dominated by geopolitical tensions, including the prospect of trade wars and more missile strikes in Syria.

“The safety trade that we have experienced seems to have ended,” said Cardillo.

Shares of International Business Machines Corp tumbled more than 7.5 percent after its profit margins fell short of Wall Street expectations.

European shares firmed amid strong company results, including those from French food group Danone, private healthcare provider Mediclinic and Dutch oil and chemical storage company Vopak.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.30 percent.

Oil extended gains, with Brent crude soaring more than 3 percent, on a reported decline in U.S. crude inventories and after sources signaled top exporter Saudi Arabia wants to see crude closer to $100 a barrel.

U.S. crude rose 3.44 percent to $68.81 per barrel and Brent was last at $73.82, up 3.13 percent.

The U.S. dollar held steady versus a basket of major currencies as solid company results and fading concerns about a trade war helped keep a lid on safe-haven demand for the greenback.

The dollar index,which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.11 percent.

Trading across U.S. government bond maturities was range-bound on Wednesday, with yields little changed in spite of gains in the equity market in the last few sessions.

“Generally, the bond market seems to be under-reacting to both the sell-off and the rally,” said Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale in New York.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 16/32 in price to yield 2.8728 percent, from 2.814 percent on Tuesday.