U.S., Europe data boost stocks, dollar

Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:07am EDT
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By Luciana Lopez

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Strong data in the United States and Germany lifted global stocks and the dollar to multi-week highs on Tuesday, even as the U.S. Federal Reserve was expected to keep a subdued tone on the possibility of more stimulus to the world's biggest economy.

European shares touched a three-week high, and U.S. stocks opened higher. The dollar hit a one-month peak against the euro.

U.S. retail sales for February showed the largest gain in five months, boosting hopes for the recovery.

In addition, German think tank ZEW's monthly index of analyst and investor sentiment showed a much higher than expected rise in the outlook for the economy -- although a separate gauge of current conditions was weaker.

"We're looking at a more positive fundamental backdrop, especially out of the U.S.," said Sean Incremona, an economist at 4Cast LTD in New York.

The Fed could acknowledge the recent spate of improved data after concluding a meeting later in the day, and analysts expected policymakers to stay cautious on the possibility of more stimulus.

"The market is maybe second-guessing how aggressive the Fed is going to be over the medium term in terms of providing more accommodation to an economy that appears to be holding up relatively well at this point in time," Incremona said.

The euro fell to a near one-month low against the dollar after breaking through stop loss orders in the aftermath of the U.S. data. The single currency traded as low as $1.3050, more recently changing hands at $1.3056, off 0.74 percent against the dollar.   Continued...

A man walks past screens showing the Nikkei stock average and stock quotation boards in Tokyo March 9, 2012. REUTERS/Issei Kato