* U.S. shares inch up ahead of Trump healthcare bill vote
* European shares post biggest one-day gain in over 3 weeks
* Treasury yields edge higher, yen little changed
* Gold prices fall on firmer dollar
(Updates to close of European markets)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, March 23 U.S. stocks rose slightly on
Thursday despite signs that President Donald Trump was
struggling to get enough votes to pass a healthcare bill in
Congress, while European shares rose on bank borrowing and gold
U.S. investors remained in suspense, with Trump poised to
make a final push to secure the votes needed to begin
dismantling Obamacare in the House of Representatives, amid
signs enough Republicans might defect to jeopardize one of his
top legislative priorities.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was last up 54.34
points, or 0.26 percent, at 20,715.64. The S&P 500 was up
4.52 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,352.97. The Nasdaq Composite
was up 7.71 points, or 0.13 percent, at 5,829.35.
In Europe, equity markets gained as banks took up 233.5
billion euros of four-year loans in the European Central Bank's
last targeted longer-term refinancing operation, well above the
125 billion euros expected in a Reuters poll. That suggested
banks are keen to stock up on cheap cash in anticipation of a
continued rise in lending.
Some investors also said they were upbeat about prospects
for European equities despite political risks and that Trump
fears were overdone.
Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index ended 0.78
percent higher, at 1,486.95 to notch its biggest daily gain in
more than three weeks.
MSCI's all-country world equity index was
last up 1.26 points, or 0.28 percent, at 448.18.
U.S. Republican leaders hoped to vote on Thursday on the
healthcare bill but there were signs the deadline could be
Analysts have warned that losing or delaying the bill would
bruise investors' confidence in Trump's ability to deliver on
his promises of tax cuts and infrastructure
Concerns about delays in fiscal reform helped send stocks
lower earlier this week, with the benchmark U.S. S&P 500 index
hitting five-week lows and Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index
hitting roughly two-week lows on Wednesday.
"Today's action is basically speculation about whether the
House is going to pass this healthcare bill," said Bruce
Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W. Baird.
Prices on safe-haven spot gold touched a more than
three-week high of $1,253.12 and the dollar touched a
fresh four-month low against the Japanese yen of 110.64
yen, but gold prices later dipped as the dollar stabilized
against the yen and gained against the euro.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries prices edged lower, with
yields last at 2.419 percent after touching a more than
three-week low of 2.375 percent Wednesday on the doubts over
Trump's ability to implement pro-growth
Brent crude oil prices were flat, while U.S. crude prices
struggled to recover from four-month lows amid investor concerns
that OPEC-led supply cuts were not yet reducing record U.S.
"Headwinds from rising production and compliance issues will
keep the upside limited for now," said Ole Hansen, head of
commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, adding that risks were "skewed
to the downside" and the upside for Brent was limited to $53.
(Additional reporting by Marc Jones and Edmund Blair in London,
Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru, Noel Randewich and Karen Brettell in
New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)