February 9, 2017 / 4:09 PM / 5 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks gain as sturdy earnings offset political worry

4 Min Read

* World stock indexes gain on rosy results

* Asia shares hit 18-month highs

* Dollar lifted as US Treasury yields rise

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh (Updates dateline and byline; adds Wall Street open; updates throughout)

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Key world stock indexes climbed on Thursday, while yields fell on some of the euro zone's battered low-rated bonds as investors took inspiration from corporate earnings and put aside for now the political risks that have dominated markets this week.

Investors had in recent weeks been pondering the potential impact of the protectionist policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, an unpredictable European electoral future and a potential winding-down of central bank stimulus that has lifted risky assets across the globe.

On Wall Street, stocks edged higher, led by energy companies, and the benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes hit record highs with a fourth-quarter earnings season that has been largely upbeat.

Rising oil prices and banking stocks pushed shares higher in Europe on a busy day of corporate earnings, while Asian stocks hit their highest in more than 18 months.

"The stabilization of the oil price after its recent wobbles, together with solid earnings, for example, Soc Gen today, is driving the positive sentiment," said Andy Sullivan, portfolio manager with GL Asset Management UK in London.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.57 percent. French lender Societe Generale reported lower fourth-quarter net income that nonetheless beat analysts' forecasts and its shares added 3 percent.

Oil prices rose after an unexpected draw in U.S. gasoline inventories pointed to higher demand in the world's biggest oil market.

Benchmark Brent crude was up 58 cents a barrel, or 1.05 percent, at $55.70. U.S. light crude was 76 cents, or 1.45 percent, higher at $53.10 a barrel.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90.43 points, or 0.45 percent, to 20,144.77, the S&P 500 gained 10.62 points, or 0.46 percent, to 2,305.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 24.24 points, or 0.43 percent, to 5,706.69.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.25 percent to their highest since July 2015, with Hong Kong, Taiwan and China among the region's best-performing markets.

Japanese shares fell 0.5 percent, a day before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets U.S. President Donald Trump.

In Europe, concern over the impact of elections in France and Germany this year saw investors sell bonds of lower-rated euro zone countries earlier this week. However, yields, which move inversely to prices, started falling late on Wednesday and fell further on Thursday.

French 10-year government bond yields fell below 1 percent for the first time in two weeks and yields on Spanish and Italian debt fell even more sharply.

The final round of France's presidential election in three months is expected to include far-right, anti-euro candidate Marine Le Pen.

Yields on German 10-year bonds, seen as among the world's safest assets, edged down 0.6 bps to 0.30 percent.

The dollar had dipped on Wednesday as U.S. Treasury yields fell to their lowest since mid-January amid concern over how many interest rate rises the Federal Reserve will deliver this year, and whether Trump will make good on his campaign pledges for tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

But both the dollar and 10-year Treasury yields reversed on Thursday as Trump said he would make a tax announcement in a few weeks.

The greenback was up 0.25 percent against a basket of major currencies.

Additional reporting by Nigel Stephenson and Christopher Johnson in London; Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Saikat Chatterjee in Hong Kong; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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