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Stocks near record highs on trade hopes, dollar gains

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By Reuters
Stocks near record highs on trade hopes, dollar gains
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., November 26, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson   -   Copyright  LUCAS JACKSON(Reuters)

By Herbert Lash

NEWYORK (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar rose and a gauge of global equities pushed closer to an all-time high on Wednesday after a batch of U.S. economic data brightened the economic outlook and investors remained bullish on prospects for a U.S.-China trade accord.

Stocks on Wall Street set all-time highs, the latest surge to push the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 to closing records in five of the past nine sessions, with the Nasdaq setting a record on six of those days.

MSCI’s gauge of stock markets across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> gained 0.36% and hovered less than 1 point from an all-time high of 550.63 established in January 2018. The index closed at 549.68.

Major pan-European equity indexes traded at highs last seen in 2015 while MSCI’s emerging markets index also gained, all bolstered by hopes the United States and China were close to an initial deal to end a 16-month trade war.

An improving economic outlook for 2020 has given investors more to cheer, said Joseph LaVorgna, chief economist for the Americas at French bank Natixis in New York.

“Basically, as goes the stock market so goes the economy,” LaVorgna said. “If you look at what the equity market is telling us it is consistent with a pick-up of GDP growth next year.”

The pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> rose 0.32% while earlier in Asia Japan’s Nikkei <.N225> rose 0.28% and most other Asian markets gained on hopes of a trade deal.

Chinese shares fell as weak industrial profit data highlighted growing strains on China’s economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 42.32 points, or 0.15%, to 28,164. The S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 13.11 points, or 0.42%, to 3,153.63 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 57.24 points, or 0.66%, to 8,705.18.

Adding to optimism was data showing U.S. economic growth picked up slightly in the third quarter, rather than slowing as initially reported in October. Other data indicated U.S. consumer spending rose steadily last month.

Two other U.S. economic reports showed orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft, a proxy for business spending plans, surged 1.2% in October while initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined.

The dollar index <.DXY> rose 0.15%, with the euro <EUR=> down 0.16% to $1.1.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.46% versus the greenback at 109.56 per dollar.

Sterling <GBP=> wobbled more as pre-election opinion polls showed some narrowing of the lead British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives enjoy over opposition parties, although he remains favoured to gain an overall majority.

Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore, said while trade hopes might be driving some tactical, near-term moves in the market, they were mostly just “noise.” The Federal Reserve policy is more important.

The broader market direction is “about the accommodative Fed and accommodative monetary policy and the fact that structurally the meta-trend is still lower in yields and rates,” he said.

China had seized on the plunge in borrowing costs to issue its biggest international bond ever on Tuesday.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note <US10YT=RR> fell 8/32 in price to lift its yield to 1.7689%.

In Europe, core European government debt yields rose slightly, with yields on benchmark German 10-year bonds pushing above one-month lows.

Benchmark German 10-year bond yields <DE10YT=RR> traded at -0.371%, holding above a November low of -0.384%.

Oil edged lower after a report showing U.S. crude inventories grew unexpectedly last week, but optimism that a U.S.-China trade deal would be reached soon limited losses.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude <CLc1> fell 30 cents to settle at $58.11 a barrel. Global benchmark Brent crude <LCOc1> settled down 21 cents to $64.06 a barrel.

U.S. gold futures <GCcv1> settled 0.5% lower at $1,453 per ounce, heading for its worst month in almost three years after a 3.5% drop.

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and David Gregorio)