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Euro hits 2-week high after ECB; world stocks rise
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro notched a two-week high against the dollar on Thursday and global shares edged higher after the head of the European Central Bank reiterated a commitment to preserve the euro.
U.S. data showing the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week added to a positive tone in equity markets.
Oil prices rebounded a day after registering a steep fall as escalating tensions between Syria and Turkey raised concerns over supplies from the Middle East.
ECB President Mario Draghi, speaking after the bank held benchmark lending rates steady at 0.75 percent, said "the euro is irreversible." He also said the ECB is ready to buy the bonds of troubled euro-zone economies that ask for it.
"What strikes me was Draghi reiterating his commitment to preserve the euro, and that has eased break-up concerns," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington. "His commitment to the bond-buying plan was a positive for the euro as well."
The euro rose 0.8 percent to $1.2999. It earlier traded as high as $1.3012, the highest level since September 21. Against the yen, the euro gained 0.7 percent to 101.97 yen.
U.S. stocks rose for a fourth session, with financial shares leading the advance, buoyed by Draghi's remarks. The S&P financial index rose 1.2 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 65.07 points, or 0.48 percent, to 13,559.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 7.07 points, or 0.49 percent, to 1,458.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 1.86 points, or 0.06 percent, to 3,137.09.
The MSCI global stock index edged up 0.6 percent to 335.08. Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 0.1 percent at 1,099.57, weighed by the gloomy economic sentiment in Europe. Shares of German chemicals giant BASF fell 2 percent after the company said it would cut costs and sell a business because of declining demand from southern Europe and Britain.
Markets are awaiting Friday's release of the U.S. government's closely watched monthly reports on jobs growth.
Speculation the jobs data will show stronger-than-expected growth in September weighed on Treasury prices. The benchmark U.S. 10-year note was down 7/32, its yield rising to 1.6387 percent.
"Some accounts believe the payrolls data will be better than the consensus forecast," said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Navigate Advisors LLC, noting a report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas showing planned job cuts announced for the month of September hit a 15-year low.
Also in focus was the Federal Reserve's release of minutes from its September 12-13 policy meeting at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT).
Brent crude rose $2.8 to $110.45 per barrel, after falling to its lowest since September 20 on Wednesday. U.S. crude rose $2 cents to $90.15, after dropping to its lowest since August 3 in the previous session.
Turkey's military hit targets inside Syria for the second day on Thursday after a mortar bomb fired from Syrian territory killed five Turkish civilians, marking the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month-old uprising in Syria.
"The hostilities between Syria and Turkey reinforce supply fears, as a number of pipelines cross the region," said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
Spot gold rose to an 11-month high of $1,794.40 and last traded at $1,790.99 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Rodrigo Campos in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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