Article Highlights

  • World stocks snap two days of losses; Europe opens higher
  • Wall Street set for firmer open, stock futures signal
  • U.S., German yields hover at multi-year highs after Fed
  • U.S. tech earnings awaited; Unilever, Shell buoy Europe
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World stocks rose on Thursday after a run of losses at the end of January as European shares opened higher, although U.S. and German bond yields near multi-year highs checked the gains and kept stocks from regaining recent record highs.

Wall Street is set for a firmer session, equity futures indicate, before tech giants Apple, Alphabet and announce their results.

MSCI’s all-country equity index rose around 0.2 percent after Tokyo bounced 1.7 percent off four-week lows. European bourses opened around 0.3 percent firmer . MSCI’s emerging Asian index closed 0.3 percent lower however.

January’s last trading session on Wall Street ended in the red, but U.S. indexes still ended with monthly gains of over 5 percent. World stocks enjoyed a record 15-month winning streak.

This week’s meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve was more hawkish than expected, but confirmed what markets had already expected – an interest rate rise in March, said Markus Huber, a trader at brokerage City of London Markets.

“In light of today’s flood of earnings in Europe and the United States, the Fed meeting will most likely have only a limited and temporary impact on markets,” Huber predicted.

Global equity markets are torn between buoyant economic growth and double-digit company earnings, on the one hand, and the possibility that U.S. and euro zone central banks will tighten policy faster than expected.

The growth momentum was confirmed by manufacturing activity surveys on Thursday that showed Asian factories getting off to a strong 2018 start and Europe posting solid growth.

Boeing and Facebook were the latest to reinforce the solid U.S. earnings growth picture. European markets cheered improved performance at Unilever and Royal Dutch Shell

Huber said results from the likes of Amazon and Apple would be crucial.

“It will be essential that those companies not only deliver in regard to earnings expectations but also show that the momentum going forward remains strong,” he added.

Equity bullishness is being tempered, however, by rising global bond yields. The Fed held interest rates unchanged on Wednesday but raised its inflation outlook, no longer saying it expected price growth to stay below 2 percent. It also flagged “further gradual” rate increases.

That wording convinced many that rates could rise four times this year, rather than three.

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields surged to near four-year highs above 2.75 percent after the Fed statement, while German Bund yields are at two-year highs .

Two-year U.S. yields are approaching decade-highs and could rise further should jobs data due on Friday confirm sustained labor market strength.

Pressure is building on euro zone authorities, too, to curb stimulus, with employment at record highs and Thursday’s manufacturing surveys confirming the bloc’s growth boom.

“There is now the expectation of three to four rate (U.S.) hikes this year on the back of a bullish and strong economy in the U.S. and Europe,” said DZ Bank strategist Daniel Lenz.

On currency markets, the dollar’s post-Fed bounce fizzled, pushing it down around 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies. The euro gained to $1.2445, just off three-year highs of $1.2538.

The British pound rose 0.4 percent, after a 5 percent gain in January, its biggest monthly rise since May 2009, owing to broad dollar weakness and expectations of a Brexit deal more favorable to the UK.

The weak dollar trend will not be changed by Fed rate rises, ING Bank analysts predicted. Not only was policy tightening already priced in, economic recovery elsewhere and U.S. political uncertainty suggested “the overnight dollar strength is unlikely to transform into a trend,” they told clients.