GLOBAL MARKETS- Euro wavers but China data boosts global stocks

Wed Dec 1, 2010 1:50pm IST

* Manufacturing data from China, U.S. boosts equities

* Euro remains under pressure as debt crisis festers

* Portugal rating warning also weighs

By Sanjeev Miglani

SINGAPORE, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The euro wavered on Wednesday as Europe's debt crisis deepened, but global stock markets drew comfort from stronger-than-expected manufacturing data from China and growing signs that the U.S. economy is improving.

Leading European stocks rose 0.9 percent in early trade, echoing gains in Asia after surveys showed China's factories ramped up production in November amid a jump in new orders from both domestic and foreign customers. [ID:nTOE6B004C]

Similar surveys showed a pick up in manufacturing activity in South Korea and India as well, helping to ease fears about Europe's debt problems after Standard & Poor's put Portugal's credit rating on review for a possible downgrade.

U.S. stock futures SPc1 rose 0.4 percent, pointing to a higher opening on Wall Street later in the day.

The index of shares outside Japan rose 1.3 percent, powered by resource stocks and consumer staples, while Japan's Nikkei edged up 0.5 percent after falling nearly 2 percent the previous day.

"People are looking at the raft of positive data from the region, and past the euro zone's problems," said Wai Ho Leong, senior regional economist at Barclays Capital in Singapore.

"Asia is still the region to be in, and stocks are looking attractive after last week."

Adding to the encouraging news from Asia, data overnight showed U.S. consumer confidence rose to its highest level in five months in November, while business activity in the Midwest grew faster than expected, providing further evidence of economic recovery. [ID:nN30263756]

The U.S. government's monthly employment report on Friday is forecast to show another month of job gains.

EURO WOES

The euro fell to around $1.2969 in early Asia trade, a level not seen since mid-September, before paring losses. It was trading at $1.3036 by 0805 GMT, slightly above late U.S. levels.

But it remained near 11-week lows against the dollar as markets waited to see if other fiscally weak euro zone countries can avoid the debt crisis that has engulfed Greece and Ireland.

Although Portugal, much like Ireland earlier, has denied it needs aid, markets are already discounting an eventual rescue for Lisbon and watching growing signs of distress in far larger economies such as Spain and Italy. [ID:nLDE6B005K]

While rescuing Portugal would be manageable, assistance for Spain would sorely test the European Union's resources, raising deeper questions about how long the 16-country euro zone bloc can hold together and if the crisis will spread beyond Europe.

"You really need some aggressive action from the authorities in Europe to try and calm nerves and that's really the key at this stage," Greg Gibbs, a strategist at RBS in Sydney, said.

The euro has fallen some 9 percent from a November high around $1.4281 and was down about 7 percent in November, the biggest monthly fall since May.

"Our risk aversion barometer has reached the highest since October 4 and shows little sign of turning around," Credit Agricole said in a research note, adding the failure of an 85 billion euro bailout package for Ireland to stem the haemorrhaging in the eurozone bond markets highlighted difficulties policymakers faced.

The U.S. two-year swap spread widened to the most in four months on Wednesday, driven by higher interbank rates, as fears the euro zone's debt crisis may take a heavy toll on the region's banks left dealers hungry for more dollar funding.

But Japanese government bond futures soared more than half a point and yields plunged across the board on Wednesday, as players covered short positions following a 10-year bond auction. [ID:nTOE6B0007]

Oil CLc1 rose 67 cents to $84.79 a barrel while cash gold priced in euros hit a record at 1,068.70 euros an ounce, reflecting the worries over Europe and investor moves into safe-haven asset. (Additional reporting by Charlotte Cooper, Ian Chua; Editing by Alex Richardson & Kim Coghill)

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