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GLOBAL MARKETS-World stocks advance on earnings, tax hopes
April 26, 2017 / 3:17 PM / 8 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-World stocks advance on earnings, tax hopes

* Strong earnings, prospect of U.S. tax cuts drive world stocks

* European earnings also beat expectations, shares edge higher

* Euro retreats after gains spurred by French vote

* U.S. crude futures turn positive after EIA inventories data (Updates with U.S. market open; changes byline, dateline; previous LONDON)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, April 26 (Reuters) - Equities in major markets touched a record for a third straight session on Wednesday as U.S. shares rose on strong earnings and the prospect of tax cuts, while the euro pulled back after two days of strong gains.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who is leading U.S. President Donald Trump’s effort to craft a tax package that can pass Congress, described the plan as the “the biggest tax cut” in U.S. history and said he hoped it would attract broad support.

“We have a pretty good idea that he (Trump) is targeting lower corporate taxes, lower individual taxes and a simplification of the process, but all that is in an ideal world,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

Thermo Fisher Electron, up 4.4 percent, and Edwards Lifesciences, up 9.5 percent, were the biggest boosts to the benchmark S&P 500 index after results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 33.93 points, or 0.16 percent, to 21,030.05, the S&P 500 gained 5.04 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,393.65 and the Nasdaq Composite added 5.39 points, or 0.09 percent, to 6,030.88.

European shares are at 20-month highs during a three-day rally sparked by centrist Emmanuel Macron’s win in the first round of French presidential elections, which considerably reduced the risk of a French exit from the single currency.

Higher-than-expected earnings also helped European stocks reverse early falls and move higher.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.46 percent, to touch its highest level since August 2015. MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.17 percent after hitting a high of 456.97, to set a record for a third straight session.

Overall, first-quarter earnings for STOXX 600 companies were expected to rise 5.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. In comparison, S&P 500 companies in the U.S. are expected to show 11.4-percent earnings growth expected for quarter.

The euro was down 0.46 percent to $1.0875 after strengthening by more than 2 percent in the prior two sessions in the wake of the first round of French elections.

The threat of a U.S. government shutdown this weekend also receded after Trump backed away from demanding that Congress include funding for his planned border wall with Mexico in a spending bill.

U.S. Treasury prices were little changed ahead of the tax announcement after paring steep losses sustained in the last few sessions. Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 2/32 in price to yield 2.3215 percent, from 2.329 percent late on Tuesday.

Oil prices reversed course and turned higher after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed a bigger-than-expected draw in crude inventories.

U.S. crude rose 0.69 percent to $49.90 per barrel and Brent was last at $52.14, up 0.08 percent on the day.

Investors were also looking ahead to Thursday’s policy meeting of the European Central Bank.

While no changes are expected, policymakers see scope for sending a small signal in June towards reducing monetary stimulus, according to sources, another factor underpinning the single currency.

Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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