World shares ride earnings to fresh high, dollar flat

LONDON/SYDNEY (Reuters) – Global shares rode earnings to a record high on Wednesday, while the dollar and Treasury yields languished in the wait for U.S. employment data to provide clues to the pace of monetary tightening in the world’s biggest economy.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a stock quotation board at a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan February 26, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

Strong corporate profits have eased concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, as vaccine roll-outs continue apace in developed markets, despite a resurgence of cases in Asian countries including China.

While that has helped buoy equities, inflationary pressures and a growing belief the U.S. Federal Reserve may soon signal its intention to trim support to the economy continue to cause a tussle with the bond market over mid-term direction.

“Macro data is coming at high expansionary levels but currently all the market is seeing is peak data. It wants to know what’s going to be the glide path over the next 12 months. Those concerns are playing out in the bond market,” said Grace Peters, EMEA head of investment strategy at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

“When it comes to the equity markets, you have more balance, as lower yields support equities, especially the growth part of the equity market. At the same time, there is strong bottom-up evidence that life is good for corporates.”

The MSCI World index, a broad gauge of equity markets, was up 0.2% in early European trading, tracking overnight gains in Asia, where the equivalent index, excluding Japan, was last up 1%.

Across Europe, the STOXX Europe 600 and FTSE 100 were both up around 0.5%, with the latter supported by strong results from housebuilder Taylor Wimpey and insurer Legal and General.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a quiet open on Wall Street, flat to up 0.1%.

Close to 90% of companies listed on the S&P500 have reported positive earnings surprises for the second quarter, National Australia Bank (NAB) economist Tapas Strickland said.

“Aside from (the) healthy earnings outlook, we also see equities being supported by continued monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve and the attractiveness of stocks relative to low bond yields,” said Mark Haefele, Chief Investment Officer, UBS Global Wealth Management in a note.

Investors expect volatility to increase in August as more companies report earnings and the market hears from Federal Reserve officials in coming weeks.

While all eyes will be on the latest U.S. non-farm payroll numbers on Friday – the last before U.S. central bankers convene at Jackson Hole to discuss policy – markets are also set to take a hint from Wednesday’s U.S. ADP employment survey.

Ahead of the data, the U.S. dollar was flat against a basket of currencies while benchmark Treasury yields were up 1 basis point at 1.182%.

In commodities, Brent futures added 28 cents to $72.61 a barrel. U.S. crude rose 7 cents at $70.61 a barrel.

Spot gold was up 0.2% to $1,814.2 an ounce.

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