Earnings lift stocks, commodities broadly higher

Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:32pm EDT
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By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global shares climbed to two-week highs on Thursday as strong corporate earnings offset weak U.S. economic data but concerns about Spain's financial troubles drove the euro broadly lower.

Commodities rallied, with oil prices hitting eight-week highs as Middle East tension stoked supply concern. Corn and soybeans soared to record highs after a worsening U.S. farm-belt drought raised fears about a possible food crisis.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index rallied to a fresh 2-1/2-month peak, lifted by a strong full-year outlook from IBM (IBM.N: Quote), bullish earnings from eBay (EBAY.O: Quote) and Qualcomm's (QCOM.O: Quote) expectations for a strong December quarter. European equities hit four-month highs also on strong corporate results.

The positive sentiment was tempered, however, by weaker-than-expected readings on U.S. manufacturing, housing and labor markets. Adding to investor concern was a spike in Spain's borrowing costs, which intensified fears Madrid may eventually need a full-blown sovereign bailout.

"It is baked into stock prices that growth is going to be slow for a little while," said Giri Cherukuri, head trader at OakBrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois.

"People are focusing on individual stocks after earnings and trying to figure out (through) outlooks how weak the economy really is," he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended up 34.66 points, or 0.27 percent, at 12,943.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX closed up 3.73 points, or 0.27 percent, at 1,376.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC rose 23.30 points, or 0.79 percent, to 2,965.90.

The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.8 percent to 315.11. European shares .FTEU3 rose 1 percent to end at 1,064.47.   Continued...

A trader checks screen data at the IG Index trading floor in London June 11, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Hackett