GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks near four-week highs, supported by corporate earnings

Energy, transport stocks lift Wall Street, IBM drags
April 18, 2018
US STOCKS-Wall St set to open at one-month high on strong earnings
April 18, 2018

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks near four-week highs, supported by corporate earnings

* Oil breaks above $72 as supply concerns build

* Dollar steady as solid earnings support U.S. stocks (Updates with U.S. markets; changes byline, dateline, previous LONDON)

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK, April 18 (Reuters) – World equity markets climbed to approach a four-week high on Wednesday, as investors’ appetite for the riskier asset was boosted by 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 a reported decline in U.S. crude inventories and the possibility of supply disruptions pushed oil prices higher.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe was up 0.56 percent, the highest since March 21, and on track for a third straight session of gains.

The index was supported by a higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, 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.

“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.

Investors appeared to be focusing on fundamentals after weeks dominated by geopolitical tensions.

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

Shares of International Business Machines Corp tumbled 7.3 percent after its profit margins fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12.93 points, or 0.05 percent, to 24,799.56, the S&P 500 gained 9.17 points, or 0.34 percent, to 2,715.56 and the Nasdaq Composite added 25.05 points, or 0.34 percent, to 7,306.15.

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.

Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.32 percent at 1,496.62.

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 found support from relatively stronger economic data than those seen in Europe and other developed markets.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was 0.07 percent higher at 89.58.

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

“The reaction in the bond market seems to be a lot more muted relative to the big moves we’ve seen in the equities rally in the past 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.

The U.S. 10-year note was down 9/32 in price to yield 2.8469 percent, up from a yield of 2.814 percent on Tuesday.

Oil extended gains, rising more than $1 on a reported decline in U.S. crude inventories and after sources signalled top exporter Saudi Arabia wants to see the crude price closer to $100 a barrel.

Brent crude oil futures were 1.9 percent higher at $72.95 a barrel, while U.S. WTI crude futures were up 2.2 percent at $68.06.

Gold prices rose to a one-week high on technical trading and as the dollar held steady. Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,351.01 an ounce.