Global shares edge higher on US data

Global shares edge higher on US data

Global equity markets rose on Thursday, boosted by solid US economic data and upbeat results from some US companies, including General Electric, while the dollar rose after a joint call by major powers for an end to the fighting in Ukraine.

Currencies have seesawed on fears that increased bloodshed between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian fighters in the eastern part of Ukraine might escalate into a full-blown civil war.

Tensions have been on the rise since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region last month, and armed protesters in eastern Ukraine have captured several towns.

Separatists attacked a Ukrainian national guard base overnight in the worst fighting so far in a 10-day pro-Russian uprising.

The United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union on Thursday issued a joint statement calling for the violence to end.

"The statement reduces the geopolitical concerns that have been overhanging the market. That's why we've seen a pop up in Treasuries yields and the dollar," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.

The joint statement spurred traders to trim their safe-haven holdings in the Japanese yen and Swiss franc, and boosted the Russian ruble to its highest level against the dollar in seven days.

It also spurred selling in safe-haven US government bonds. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 23/32 in price to yield 2.72 per cent.

Rising tensions in Ukraine did not affect U.S. stocks, which were little changed.

Strong results from industrial conglomerate GE and investment bank Morgan Stanley were offset by disappointing results late on Wednesday from IBM and Google.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, rose 0.065 points or 0.08 per cent, to 79.868.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, rose 1.15 points or 0.28 per cent, to 410.53.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 16.31 points or 0.1 percent, to 16,408.54, the S&P 500 gained 2.54 points, or 0.14 percent, to 1,864.85, and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.291 points, or 0.23 percent, to 4,095.516.

US markets will be closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.

"The market is digesting the sharp move we've seen this week and is doing its best to ignore the results from IBM and Google, which didn't look great," said Steve Sosnick, equity risk manager at Timber Hill/Interactive Brokers Group in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose less than expected in the latest week and factory activity in the US mid-Atlantic region expanded in April at a faster clip than expected.

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