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Tech boom eases world stocks to 2-1/2 month high

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A 15-year high for tech stocks on the Nasdaq helped world shares to a 2-1/2 month peak on Tuesday, though more engine trouble for Volkswagen and a US$5.1 billion cash call by Standard Chartered left Europe feeling flat.

[LONDON] A 15-year high for tech stocks on the Nasdaq helped world shares to a 2-1/2 month peak on Tuesday, though more engine trouble for Volkswagen and a US$5.1 billion cash call by Standard Chartered left Europe feeling flat.

Europe's FTSEurofirst dipped 0.1 per cent though MSCI's 45-country All World index remained just about in positive territory after 1 per cent gains in Asia and the Nasdaq had notched its eye-catching milestone.

"It shows that the risk appetite is still there," said Emile Cardon at Rabobank. "Volatility is quite low again and the earnings of the tech firms have been ok this quarter." There was little new economic data for investors after a mixed batch on Monday, but China helped bolster the mood as its President Xi Jinping was quoted by state media saying growth would be no less than 6.5 per cent over the next five years.

Australia's dollar gained almost 1 per cent after the country's central bank kept its interest rates on hold, disappointing those who had been looking for a cut following the recent turbulence from its big trade partner China.

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Turkey's lira eased back slightly after its strong post-election gains on Monday, while among the majors, dollar index and the euro were both barely changed at 96.940 and US$1.1008 respectively as traders waited for clarity on the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank's next moves.

US jobs data on Friday is expected to be the big influencer in terms of the Fed's plans to raise its interest rates, while Mario Draghi, whose ECB is flagging more stimulus, is due to speak at a normally low-key event in Frankfurt later.

A rise in energy shares propped up Europe's stock markets, although Volkswagen fell 3 per cent after its emissions test cheating scandal widened to include its luxury brands Porsche and Audi.

Standard Chartered also slumped 5 per cent after it announced plans to raise US$5.1 billion in new capital through a rights issue and cut 15,000 jobs by 2018 as new Chief Executive Bill Winters tries to restore profitability.

The expectation of more ECB stimulus saw euro zone bond yields - which move inverse to prices - dip, while UK gilts and sterling both took in their stride British construction data showing new work coming in at its quickest in a year.

Overnight, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan broke a five-day losing streak to rise 1.1 per cent. Activity in the region was limited, though, with Japan's Nikkei closed for a public holiday.

There was an element of global wariness too. Corporate earnings growth expectations for the next year for the constituents of the MSCI World, S&P500, Europe and Asian stocks are currently stuck near five-year lows.

Within Asia, Jakarta and Hong Kong led the region higher. In China, the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen was flat.

Wall Street had a good outing with major indexes in the black, led by Nasdaq which rose 1.45 per cent to its highest close since 2000, though futures prices pointed to subdued restart later.

In commodities, oil was weighed down by the prospect of weak Chinese demand and record-high Russian production, which is adding to worries about global oversupply.

Internationally traded Brent was flat at US$48.80, gold nudged down for a fifth straight day to US$1,133 an ounce while global-growth attuned metal copper clawed up to US$5,126 a tonne as it attempted its first rise in four days.

REUTERS

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