World stocks scale two-year highs

The Pak Banker - - International -

PARIS: World stocks hit their high­est level since Septem­ber 2008 on Thurs­day while oil held near a two-year peak as fa­vor­able U.S. data re­in­forced ex­pec­ta­tions eco­nomic growth will re­tain mo­men­tum into next year.

Wed­nes­day's up­wardly re­vised data show­ing the U.S. econ­omy ex­panded at 2.6 per­cent in the third quar­ter, cou­pled with re­cent re­tail sales fig­ures, pointed to firmer eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the world's largest econ­omy.

Stronger bank­ing stocks helped the S&P 500 in­dex hit its high­est level since the col­lapse of Lehman Broth­ers.

"The cor­po­rate pic­ture still looks very bright, the trend to­ward higher prof­its is go­ing to con­tinue and pub­lic poli­cies should re­main share­hold­er­friendly," said Henk Potts, eq­uity strate­gist at Bar­clays Wealth.

"In terms of the macro en­vi­ron­ment, we would ex­pect most of the economies to keep grow­ing and that is a pretty pow­er­ful mix." The MSCI world eq­uity in­dex was up 0.1 per­cent, hav­ing ear­lier hit 328.89, its high­est since early Septem­ber 2008. The in­dex has gained nearly 10 per­cent this year. The Thom­son Reuters global stock in­dex rose 0.1 per­cent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 in­dex was up slightly on the day, hav­ing hit a 27-month peak ear­lier, while emerg­ing stocks were steady. Tokyo was shut for a hol­i­day. U.S. crude oil stood at $90.48 a bar­rel, within half a cent of the Wed­nes­day peak that was the high­est since Oc­to­ber 2008.

Ab­nor­mally cold weather in the United States and Europe has spurred the rally above $90, the lat­est leg in a more than 40 per­cent rise from a year low in May. Bund fu­tures were steady on the day.

The dol­lar fell 0.1 per­cent against a bas­ket of ma­jor cur­ren­cies while the yen rose 0.7 per­cent to 82.99 per dol­lar

in a flow-driven, thin-liq­uid­ity trad­ing. A re­cent run of pos­i­tive U.S. data and per­sis­tent con­cerns about the euro zone debt cri­sis are rais­ing ex­pec­ta­tions that the dol­lar would trade on a firmer tone into the new year. -Reuters

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