April 13, 2018 / 12:48 AM / 12 days ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks bounce as Trump changes tack on Syria, earnings hopes

* Global shares hit 3-week high as earnings season kicks off

* Easing fear of imminent U.S. attack on Syria soothes nerve

* Bitcoin supported after biggest gains in 4 months

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, April 13 (Reuters) - Global stocks recovered to three-week highs on Friday as anticipated strong earnings season took centre stage after U.S. President Donald Trump backtracked on his suggestion of an imminent missile attack on Syria.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked up 0.1 percent while Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.8 percent.

MSCI’s broadest gauge of the world’s stock markets also edged up 0.1 percent after hitting a three-week high on Thursday.

In New York, the S&P 500 gained 0.83 percent, led by a 1.83 percent gain in financials after strong quarterly results from BlackRock Inc boosted optimism for corporate earnings.

The earnings season begins in earnest on Friday with reports from JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc and Wells Fargo & Co.

Analysts expect quarterly profit for S&P 500 companies to rise 18.4 percent from a year ago, in what would be the biggest gain in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The mood improved also after Trump tweeted an attack on Syria “could be very soon or not so soon at all,” allaying fears of an immediate military action that investors fear could lead to wider conflict between Washington and Moscow.

In another change of tack, Trump has asked his trade advisers to look at re-joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade pact he withdrew the United States from early last year.

“Markets have been pushed around by Trump. His modus operandi seems to do anything that seems to be good for his re-election. If protectionism doesn’t work, he may switch to international trade,” said Hiroshi Watanabe, economist at Sony Financial Holdings.

“Markets are still not yet convinced yet if the U.S. is really re-joining the TPP. But if it does, it’s very positive for the global economy and stock markets will like it,” he added.

The improved sentiment drove up U.S. bond yields. The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield rose to 2.843 percent, its highest level since March 27.

In the currency market, the dollar rose to 107.27 yen , edging near a five-week high of 107.49 touched on Apr. 5.

The yen has become litmus test for risk sentiment, sought when investors turn risk averse because Japan’s hefty current surplus gives protection to any capital outflows deficit-running countries are vulnerable to.

The euro eased to $1.2327, though on the week it has kept gains of 0.4 percent.

The Hong Kong dollar stood at 7.8498 to the dollar, near the lower end of its 7.75-7.85 trading band, a day after Hong Kong’s de facto central bank intervened to support the currency for the first time since 2015.

The Singapore dollar gained slightly after Singapore’s central bank tightened monetary policy for the first time in six years as expected.

Oil prices remained close to highs last reached in late 2014 on tensions in the oil-rich Middle East and shrinking global oil inventories.

Brent crude futures traded at $71.90 a barrel, a tad below Thursday close but not far from Wednesday’s high of $73.09. U.S. WTI crude futures stood at $66.87.

Elsewhere, bitcoin fetched $7,968.5 after 14.2 percent gains on Thursday, its biggest gain in four months.

Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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