Data lifts dollar, sends world shares to fresh peak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Upbeat data lifted the dollar and sent world shares to a fourth all-time high in less than a month on Thursday, a day after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled that a rise in interest rates would be less aggressive than had been expected.

Oil prices gained as evidence of stronger demand in China offset reports of higher production by key OPEC exporters in a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Stocks on Wall Street climbed, ahead of Yellen’s second day of testimony after her remarks on Wednesday suggested a more gradual tightening of monetary policy than expected, which sparked a rally in global equity markets.

The U.S. economy is healthy enough for the Fed to raise rates and begin winding down its massive bond portfolio, though low inflation may leave the central bank with less leeway, Yellen told a House committee on Wednesday.

Sentiment was boosted after China reported upbeat data on exports and imports for June, the latest sign that global trade is finding some traction again. The data pushed Asian shares up more than 1 percent and lifted MSCI’s 47-country gauge of global equity markets to a fresh record high with a gain of 0.25 percent.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.27 percent to close at a preliminary 1,518.69.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18.24 points, or 0.08 percent, to 21,550.38. The S&P 500 gained 2.82 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,446.07 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.29 points, or 0.04 percent, to 6,263.46.

Oil Gains

Encouraging U.S. economic data supported the dollar. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week for the first time in a month and producer prices unexpectedly rose in June. The data likely will keep the Fed on track for a third interest rate increase this year.

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“We are seeing the dollar do a little bit better this morning, particularly following the producer price index figure,” said Sireen Harajli, FX strategist at Mizuho in New York.

“Yesterday, Yellen’s comments were perceived as more dovish by the market,” she said.

Yellen returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday to testify before the Senate Banking Committee and investors are also focused on U.S. consumer price index numbers due out on Friday.

Oil prices rose after dropping in recent weeks to levels not seen since the end of last year as investors lost faith in a deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers to reduce output.

U.S. shale oil production also has risen sharply.

Brent crude was up 71 cents to $48.45 a barrel. U.S. light crude was 69 cents higher at $46.18.

U.S. Treasury yields rose after falling for three straight days, tracking gains in German bond yields with solid U.S. economic data supporting their trend higher.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell 9/32 in price to yield 2.3569 percent. The German 10-year Bund was up 2 basis points to 0.533 percent.

Additional reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum