World stocks rise to new 29-month highs

Thursday, 3 February 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters - World stocks hit fresh 29-month highs on Wednesday, lifted by strong data pointing to sustained economic recovery and continuing positive company earnings.

MSCI’s all-country world stock index, one of the broadest gauges of global equity health, was up 0.6 percent at levels last seen in August 2008.

Its developed market counterpart gained 0.5 percent to come close to a high last seen in early September 2008.

Emerging markets were up 0.8 percent on the day, but remain down more than 1 percent for the year, reflecting a recent shift by investors from emerging to developed markets.

Stock investors were cheered on Tuesday by strong factory data worldwide, which led to U.S. benchmark stock indexes to close at their highest levels since June 2008

Asian stocks jumped on Wednesday and the dollar slipped as a surge in U.S. manufacturing and strong company earnings convinced investors to pile back into riskier assets despite turmoil in Egypt.

Commodities prices remained high, bolstering shares of resources firms, with copper at record peaks near $10,000 a tonne on signs that the global economy is gathering strength, while Brent crude held above $100 per barrel -- its highest since October 2008.

After a million people took to the streets in Egypt on Tuesday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he would surrender power in September, but that was not enough for many protesters who demanded an immediate end to his 30-year rule.

“The easing of the crisis in Egypt helped investors to concentrate on positive economic data from the U.S., boosting their appetite for equities,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro of Ikasan Securities.

Japan’s Nikkei index rose 1.9 percent -- its biggest daily advance in two and half months -- as the latest in a string of bullish U.S. economic data pushed Wall Street to its highest levels in 2-1/2 years.

The MSCI index of Asian shares outside of Japan climbed 0.9 percent, though activity was thin ahead of the long Lunar New year holidays in much of Asia.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 1.6 percent in a shortened session while Australia’s main benchmark gained 0.8 percent despite the approach of Cyclone Yasi, said by forecasters to be the strongest ever to strike the country.