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GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares rally, retail surge drives silver to 8-year high

(Adds oil, gold settlement prices)

* Retail crowd focus on silver drives it to 8-year high

* Oil up 1%; dollar index, Bund, T-bill yields steady

* Excess Money? tmsnrt.rs/2YpThUB

NEW YORK, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Global shares rebounded from last week’s steep sell-off and silver prices surged on Monday as retail investors expanded their social media-fueled battle with Wall Street to drive the precious metal to an eight-year high.

A shift in the retail trading frenzy to silver drove up mining stocks on both sides of the Atlantic, with a 7.2% jump in the iShares Silver Trust ETF - the largest silver-backed ETR - put it on track for its best day since 2008.

Data for the ETF showed its silver holdings jumped by a record 37 million shares from Thursday to Friday alone, each representing an ounce of silver.

Mining behemoths BHP Group, Glencore Plc and Anglo American Plc were the top six gainers to the FTSE 100 in London, with the blue-chip closing up 0.92%.

Miner Fresnillo rose 8.95% to 1,076 to help lead the pan-European STOXX 600 index gain 1.24%.

On Wall Street, nine of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced, with technology leading the rally.

Silver prices surged to an eight-year high of just over $30 an ounce, before paring gains to trade 6.3% higher at $28.70.

The social media trading frenzy drove huge gains in companies such as GameStop Corp last week, forcing hedge funds to cover their short positions and sparking volatility on Wall Street. The three main stock indexes posted their biggest weekly declines since October.

GameStop fell 27.31% to $236.23.

“Silver has knock-on effects compared to GameStop because it has links to miners,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx. “If you start pushing silver higher, that is going to have effects on other industries and other markets and that is clearly what happened.”

Silver has gained 19% in price since Thursday after posts on Reddit led small investors to buy silver mining stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETF) backed by physical silver bars, in a GameStop-style squeeze.

Spot silver was up 6.33% to $28.71.

MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets rose 1.6% to 653.19.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.06%, the S&P 500 gained 1.82% and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.67%.

The U.S. dollar bounced to a 2-week high on weakness in the euro, Swiss franc and Japanese yen on the view that the United States has an advantage in growing its economy and vaccinating its population against COVID-19.

The euro weakened after Germany reported that retail sales plunged by an unexpected 9.6% in December after tighter lockdowns last year to curb the spread of COVID-19 choked consumer spending in Europe’s largest economy.

The dollar index rose 0.393%, with the euro down 0.59% to $1.2064.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.25% versus the greenback at 104.92 per dollar.

Oil prices rose, buoyed by shrinking inventories and hopes of a swifter global economic recovery, although halting vaccine rollouts and renewed travel restrictions capped gains.

Brent crude futures settled up $1.31 at $56.35 a barrel. U.S. crude futures rose $1.35 to settle at $53.55 a barrel.

Gold followed silver higher, up 0.70% to $1,859.05 an ounce. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.7% at $1,863.90.

Data overnight showed Chinese factory activity slowed in January as restrictions took a toll in some regions. In the euro zone, manufacturing growth remained resilient at the start of the year but the pace waned from December.

British data showed an even greater struggle, with manufacturers facing the twin headwinds of COVID-19 and Britain’s exit from the European Union.

While the coronavirus vaccine rollout globally remains slow, with concern about whether they will work on new COVID strains, Europe was also bolstered by news that it would receive a further 9 million doses from AstraZeneca in the first quarter.

With riskier markets bouncing, Italian government bond yields fell 2-3 basis points across the curve.

German Bund yields, meanwhile, the benchmark for the euro zone, remained anchored around -0.51% on Monday, tracking U.S. Treasury yields.. The 10-year U.S. Treasury note traded to yield 1.0723%.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Richard Chang

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