May 1, 2019 / 12:49 PM / 2 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Apple magic extends global equities' months-long rally

(Updating prices, adding comment)

* Apple shares rally premarket after consensus-busting results

* Most of Europe, Asia shut for May Day holidays

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

* For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets, please click on:

By Josephine Mason

LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - Global equities were higher on Wednesday, extending a rally into a fifth month as Apple's strong results soothed broader worries about weak earnings and the dollar dipped ahead of a Federal Reserve policy statement.

MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was up 0.1 percent at 1208 GMT after rising to its highest since early October. May Day holidays across Asia and Europe meant trading was thinner than usual.

CME E-Mini S&P 500 Futures were at record highs and Nasdaq futures were up 0.7 percent, suggesting Wall Street is poised for more gains after hitting another record close overnight fuelled by optimism about first quarter earnings.

Apple shares jumped 5.8 percent in premarket trading after the iPhone maker beat low-balled expectations despite a record drop in phone revenue, gave an upbeat assessment of its China business, said it would buy back $75 billion in shares and hiked its dividend.

That blast of good news soothed worries about a prolonged weakness in global results, with analysts becoming more upbeat about corporate health on Wall Street.

Weaker oil prices knocked London's blue chips into negative territory in late morning although, in a sign of broader appetite for riskier assets, Australian shares ended just shy of an 11-year peak.

There was plenty to keep those investors who were at their desks occupied though: Beijing and Washington resumed talks aimed at ending a bitter trade war and Fed chairman Jerome Powell was due to speak later following the central bank's two-day policy meeting.

The dollar was down 0.1 percent against a basket of six major currencies, trading in a tight range after hitting a one-week low as investors bet the central bank will stick to its dovish stance even after a rash of better data.

The central bank is largely expected to leave U.S. borrowing costs unchanged as it seeks to balance solid economic growth against low inflation.

"This is the first chance to test-drive this idea that the Fed is looking at things differently to last year," said James McCormick, global head of desk strategy at NatWest Markets.

"We expect the Fed today to recognise growth data is better, but the emphasis will be on the low inflation."

An unorthodox call from U.S. President Donald Trump for a cut in interest rates will likely go unheeded, but is likely to increase focus on Powell at his press conference.

CAUTION FOR MAY

Sentiment has improved along with global economic data - most recently from the euro zone where data on Tuesday showed first quarter growth topped expectations - but inflation numbers remain soft.

There was also some caution ahead of the summer lull with investors questioning how much longer the rally across global equities can last with better economic data and a stabilisation in earnings priced in.

"Historically the more difficult half of the year starts today," said Ian Williams, economics and strategy research analyst at Peel Hunt. "The next six months will present plenty of geopolitical challenges."

Commodities were mixed with base metals prices rising on hopes of a breakthrough in the U.S.-China talks, while crude oil prices eased as data showed a rise in U.S. inventories.

Brent crude oil futures were at $71.83 per barrel, down 0.3 percent, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 0.8 percent at $63.37 per barrel.

Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and John Stonestreet

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