NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global equities advanced on Thursday, lifted by a round of solid quarterly earnings in Europe and the United States, while the euro weakened after the head of the European Central Bank hailed “solid” economic growth but kept interest rates unchanged.
Facebook reported a surprisingly strong rise in profit and an increase in users, with no sign that business was hurt by a scandal over the mishandling of users’ personal data. Its shares were on track for their best day since January 2016.
A drop in the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield below the 3 percent mark also helped equities. Economic data supported the view that the Federal Reserve would stick to its gradual pace of rate increases. Although domestic core capital good orders fell in March, filings for jobless benefits plunged to their lowest level in over 48 years.
The 10-year yield on Wednesday reached its highest level since January 2014, at 3.035 percent.
“I suspect we are going to sit here for a while on the Treasuries,” said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.
“We have come up to 3 (percent), now we are going to wait, take a couple of deep breaths, see what the economic data looks like, see what the headline risk looks like and then we will see which way this market wants to break out.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 260.4 points, or 1.08 percent, to 24,344.23, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 30.72 points, or 1.16 percent, to 2,670.12 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 123.97 points, or 1.77 percent, to 7,127.71.
In Europe, Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) shares climbed 2.66 percent even though its first-quarter operating profit fell as investors were encouraged by its new chief executive, the car maker’s financial health and lower provisions for the diesel emissions scandal.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 rose 0.91 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.76 percent.
The FTSE index marked its best day since April 5 while the MSCI index was on pace to snap a five-session losing streak, its longest since November.
The euro dropped to session lows after ECB President Mario Draghi hailed “solid” euro zone growth but kept rates unchanged, without a clear signal about ending the central bank’s quantitative easing programme. The dollar strengthened as short positions unwound on the U.S. economic data.
The euro fell to its lowest level against the dollar since mid-January, at $1.2096, after the ECB announced its decision to keep monetary policy unchanged. The single currency had initially rebounded after Draghi played down concern over recent softness in data.
The dollar index .DXY rose 0.43 percent, with the euro EUR= down 0.44 percent to $1.2106.
A sharp sell-off in bonds over the last week has been pushing up global borrowing costs, putting additional focus on when the ECB will end its 2.55 trillion euro ($3.2 trillion), three-year stimulus programme.
After touching four-year highs, yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries dipped below 3 percent as buyers emerged following a week-long sell-off spurred by concerns about rising inflation and growing borrowing by the U.S. government.
The rise in borrowing yields and commodity prices has caused several companies, such as Caterpillar (CAT.N) and 3M (MMM.N), to caution this week about rising costs, raising flags for investors about the strength of future earnings.
Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 7/32 in price to yield 2.9978 percent, from 3.024 percent late on Wednesday.
Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler