January 31, 2019 / 4:48 PM / 6 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Fed pause sets stocks for best January on record, yields fall

(Adds U.S. market open, byline, dateline; previous LONDON)

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Stocks gain broadly after Fed's policy caution

* Fed slams brakes on rate hikes, Treasury yields skid

* Facebook soars after better than expected results

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Global equity markets mostly rose on Thursday, propelled by Facebook's stellar earnings and the Federal Reserve's pledge to be patient in raising borrowing costs further, while U.S. bond yields fell on indications of weaker than expected inflation.

Oil prices rose for a third day, extending a rally this month as an output cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and others took effect. The dollar was mixed after the Fed's policy statement on Wednesday.

MSCI's gauge of global stock performance and an emerging markets index rose, as did the Nasdaq and S&P 500 on Wall Street, propelled by a 13 percent gain by Facebook after its quarterly results topped analysts' estimates.

European shares edged lower and the Dow fell on downbeat reports by DowDuPont Inc, among others, as investors awaited news about the U.S.-China trade talks in Washington.

But broadly speaking, U.S. stocks rose.

"We have positive earnings, positive economy and a positive Fed," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey, adding that trade was the missing piece of the puzzle for investors.

"It seems as if most of the fears have been taken away except for trade," Bakhos said.

The two-day talks, which began on Wednesday, are expected to be tense, with little indication so far that Beijing is willing to address core U.S. demands to budge on trade practices and fully protect American intellectual property rights.

If a deal is not reached soon, Washington has threatened to more than double tariffs on Chinese goods on March 2.

E-commerce behemoth Amazon was the other big focus, with it set to report results after the closing bell.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe rose 0.76 percent, on track to its best January on record, and its emerging market index gained 1.46 percent. The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.20 percent and FTSEurofirst 300 slid 0.12 percent.

The dollar dropped to a two-week low versus the yen, pressured by the Fed's cautious U.S. economic outlook, and it was lower against the Canadian dollar and Mexican peso.

The dollar index rose 0.09 percent, with the euro down 0.11 percent to $1.1464.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.21 percent versus the greenback at 108.83 per dollar.

The Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of labor costs, rose 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter after an unrevised 0.8 percent gain the previous quarter, the Labor Department said.

The data continued a pattern of low inflation.

Two-year yields, which reflect expectations of rate hikes, fell to a nearly four-week low of 2.49 percent.

"What you've seen the last couple days with the market is the Street's reaction to recognition that cheap money is going to continue for the foreseeable future," said Brian Ward, chief executive of Trimont Real Estate Advisors in Atlanta.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 14/32 in price to push its yield down to 2.6453 percent.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 85 cents at $55.08 per barrel. Brent crude oil futures rose 49 cents to $62.14.

Reporting by Herbert Lash, additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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