June 27, 2013 / 12:52 AM / 4 years ago

Poor U.S. growth data eases fears of early end to Fed stimulus

Electronic information boards display market information at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London January 2, 2013.Paul Hackett

LONDON (Reuters) - World shares and bonds steadied on Thursday while gold and the euro recovered slightly after disappointing data buoyed hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve may leave its stimulus program in place a bit longer previously expected.

The market tone improved overnight after a surprisingly sharp downward revision to first-quarter U.S. economic growth. While hardly bullish, this calmed immediate fears the Fed would soon wind down the huge bond-buying scheme that has underpinned investors' risk appetite.

Another deluge of U.S. data is due throughout Thursday and brighter-than-forecast jobless claims and consumer spending figures released ahead of what was expected to be a third day of gains on Wall Street left focus on the Fed's stimulus plans.

European shares .FTEU3 had seen their first session of relative quiet in a week, as they consolidated the 3.2 percent recovery they have enjoyed over the last two days having dropped 11 percent last week.

London's FTSE 100 .FTSE outshone broadly flat markets in Paris .FCHI and Frankfurt .GDAXI with a 0.3 percent rise adding to earlier gains in Asia to nudge MSCI's world share index .MIWD00000PUS to its highest level in a week.

"Whenever there is good news out of the U.S. it will cause selling because people see it as a confirmation for Fed tapering (off bond-buying), while if we have something more disappointing like yesterday people will say, 'Well OK, it won't happen yet'," said Tobias Blattner, an economist at Daiwa Securities.

"That, unfortunately, is the kind of volatility that is going to continue for the next couple of months."

YIELDS YIELD

With the rise in benchmark 10-year U.S. government debt appearing to have stabilized at around 2.5 percent, euro zone bonds from Germany to Greece were able to claw back some of the ground lost during the recent global selloff.<GVD/EUR>

Reflecting the recent rise in yields generally over the last few weeks, Italy paid its highest rate since March at a 5 billion euro auction of 10- and 5- year debt, but healthy demand at the sale saw its bonds top the list of periphery performers.

A deal hammered out by European authorities overnight designed to shift the burden of paying for bank bailouts away from the taxpayer was also in focus although opinion on the deal was mixed among economists.

New figures from the ECB showed lending to euro zone firms continued to contract in May, Ireland slipped back into recession, while France's problems saw its consumer confidence hit an all time low.

But at the same time there was a small pick-up in this month's European Commission consumer and business confidence survey, Germany saw unemployment ease and a data revision meant euro zone neighbor Britain did not suffer a recent "double-dip" recession after all.

"The further marked fall in lending to euro zone businesses in May maintains pressure on the ECB to come up with concrete measures aimed at improving credit availability," said Howard Archer at Global Insight.

HAMMERED METALS

After the sharp moves of recent days, there was some respite for precious metals, although there were questions over if it would last.

Spot gold rose 1 percent to $1,235 an ounce, after a 4 percent fall on Wednesday that took the metal to $1,221.80, its lowest since August 2010. Silver, which sank 5.5 percent in the previous session, gained about 2 percent.

Analysts at ABN Amro lowered their end-of-year forecast for gold $200 to $1,100 and said this year's 25 percent drop in gold and near 40 percent plunge in silver prices showed "investors are losing faith in precious metals".

The easing concerns about a pullback in U.S. stimulus helped oil climb above $102 and saw the dollar .DXY dip which helped the euro pull up to $1.3035 having dropped to a three-week low on Wednesday.

Steadying Chinese markets, as fears of credit crunch there eased, also helped calm emerging market currencies and stocks.

The Indian rupee recovered from record lows as a lower-than-expected current account gap helped relieve some of the concerns about the battered currency.

Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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