Global stocks, commodities rise on U.S. fiscal deal

Wed Jan 2, 2013 4:48pm EST
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By Herbert Lash and Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stocks jumped 2 percent or more and commodities rallied on Wednesday after U.S. legislators struck a deal to halt a round of automatic fiscal tightening that threatened to push the world's largest economy into recession.

The deal reached on Tuesday to avert the "fiscal cliff" put off the immediate pain of income tax hikes for almost all U.S. households but did nothing to resolve other political impasses on the budget that loom in coming months, including the debt ceiling.

Oil prices pared some gains but Wall Street rallied at the close, with the benchmark S&P 500 posting its best day in more than a year. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX , a gauge of investor anxiety, dropped 18.5 percent to 14.68 at the close. The VIX has fallen 35.4 percent over the past two sessions.

The markets' reaction to the U.S. budget deal was a "sigh of relief that a recession in the world's largest economy has been averted," said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

Copper rose to its highest in more than two months, while silver and platinum group metals also rose sharply. The S&P 500 achieved its biggest one-day gain since December 20, 2011, pushing the index to its highest close since September 14.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed up 308.41 points, or 2.35 percent, at 13,412.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX rose 36.23 points, or 2.54 percent, at 1,462.42. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC gained 92.75 points, or 3.07 percent, at 3,112.26.

Still, the rally may be short-lived. Spending cuts of $109 billion in military and domestic programs were only delayed for two months, and a fight over the limit for U.S. government debt also looms.

"There was the fiscal cliff euphoria, but the markets are a little overdone and people realize you still have the debt ceiling battle, social security taxes going up and dealing with spending sequestration and budget cuts," said Mark Waggoner, president at Excel Futures Inc.   Continued...

An employee of a foreign exchange trading company looks at monitors as a television set shows Japan's incoming Prime Minister and the leader of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Shinzo Abe speaking in Tokyo December 26, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao