World shares gain on positive news from China and US
WORLD share markets extended a week-long rally on Thursday as manufacturing surveys in China and the United States boosted confidence over the growth outlook and euro zone data was not as weak as some had feared.
The single currency also touched a two-week high against the dollar, despite data indicating the euro zone's economy is on course for its deepest downturn since early 2009, on renewed optimism of a deal emerging to provide aid payments to Greece.
"The driving factors behind euro/dollar are that the global macroeconomic backdrop seems to be improving and people are pricing out the tail risk on Greece," said Arne Lohmann Rasmussen, head of currency research at Danske Bank.
The euro rose 0.3pc to $1.2869, its highest level since Nov. 7.
The prospects of a deal to help Athens were boosted when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday after the failure of overnight talks that an agreement was possible when euro zone ministers meet again on Monday.
The likelihood of a deal, combined with better economic data and a growing view that a resolution can be found to the U.S. fiscal crisis lifted the MSCI's world equity index 0.3pc to 325.75 points, putting it on track for its best week since mid-September.
Europe's FTSE Eurofirst 300 index rose 0.4pc to a two-week high of 1,101.90 points, with London's FTSE 100 , Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX between 0.3 and 0.7 percent higher.
However, trading across all markets was subdued, with U.S. markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Confidence in the global economic outlook got its biggest lift from the HSBC flash Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for China, which pointed to expansion after seven consecutive quarters of slowdown.
"There have been a lot of concerns regarding the outlook for global growth. In this context, any improvement in Chinese data is welcome, given that investors are still risk averse," said Robert Parkes, equity strategist at HSBC Securities.
The Chinese data followed an report on Wednesday showing U.S. manufacturing grew in November at its quickest pace in five months, indicating strong economic growth in the fourth quarter.
PMI data on the manufacturing and services sectors in Europe's two biggest economies of Germany and France added to the better tone, revealing that conditions had not worsened in November, though both economies are still contracting.
However, the PMI numbers for the wider euro zone remain extremely weak, pointing to the recession-hit region shrinking by about 0.5pc in the current quarter - its sharpest contraction since the first quarter of 2009.
Amid the improving appetite for riskier assets, Spain sold €3.88bn of new government bonds on Thursday, though it has already raised enough funds for this year's needs.
The average yield on the three-year bonds in the auction was 3.617pc, compared with 3.66pc at a sale earlier in November and a 2012 average of 3.79pc.
Ten-year Spanish yields were 6 basis points lower on the day at 5.67pc, having traded above 6pc at the start of the week.
German 10-year bonds yields, which tend to rise as investors' anxiety over the euro zone outlook ease, were up slightly at 1.439pc.
Commodity prices gained some support from the improving outlook for world demand from all the PMI data, but prospects of only modest global growth in 2013 kept gains in check.
London copper rose 0.6 percent to $7,740 a tonne, and spot gold inched up to $1,730 an ounce.
Brent crude oil dipped under $111 per barrel as a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers eased concerns over the impact the unrest may have on supply from the region.
Brent slipped 34 cents to $110.52 a barrel, while U.S. crude was steady at $87.38.