Global tocks jump, but euro choppy on mixed data

Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:18pm EDT
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By Luciana Lopez

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks jumped on Thursday, buoyed by strong housing data and earnings reports, but the euro eked out only modest gains as disappointing labor market and European sentiment figures kept trading choppy.

Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes gained to a near two-year high in March, offering hopes of a pick-up in housing.

The data buoyed riskier assets such as equities, which also gained on another batch of positive earnings, including weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: Quote) and online jobs recruiter Monster Worldwide Inc MWW.N.

"In any case, progress on the housing market is going to be slow and gradual," said ING's Teunis Brosens. "The pick-up in sales over the past few months appears to be at least partly driven by all-cash buyers."

The pending home sales data are an important clue to existing home sales, Brosens added. "Slowly but surely, the U.S. housing market is climbing out of the abyss."

Equities had dipped early in the session after data showed an underlying trend for U.S. joblessness rising, fueling fears that the U.S. labor market could struggle for some time.

The euro also changed course several times early in the North American session, alternately weighed down by weaker-than-expected euro zone sentiment data and boosted by the stronger U.S. housing market.

"This choppiness and the back and forth have been very characteristic of the past several weeks already," said Vassili Serebriakov, senior currency strategist with Wells Fargo in New York.   Continued...

A man takes a photo of displays showing market prices at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo April 11, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai