October 4, 2012 / 12:42 AM / 6 years ago

Euro, stocks rally after ECB, U.S. jobs ahead

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro hit a two-week high against the dollar on Thursday and global shares gained after the head of the European Central Bank reiterated a commitment to preserve the euro.

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Remote/Marte Kiessling

U.S. data showing the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week added to the positive tone in equity markets. It came a day before the government’s closely watched nonfarm payrolls report.

Oil prices rallied more than $3 a day after registering a steep fall as Turkey’s retaliatory strikes on a Syria heightened tensions in the Middle East, while U.S. gasoline futures rallied following a fire at a refinery in Texas.

ECB President Mario Draghi, speaking after the bank held benchmark lending rates steady at 0.75 percent, said “the euro is irreversible.” He also said the ECB is ready to buy the bonds of troubled euro-zone economies that ask for it.

“What strikes me was Draghi reiterating his commitment to preserve the euro, and that has eased break-up concerns,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington. “His commitment to the bond-buying plan was a positive for the euro as well.”

The euro rose 0.9 percent to $1.3026. It earlier traded as high as $1.3030, the highest level since September 21. Against the yen, the euro gained 0.8 percent to 102.05 yen.

The S&P 500 rose for a fourth session, with financial shares leading the advance buoyed by Draghi’s remarks. The S&P financial index .GSPF rose 1.4 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 85.28 points, or 0.63 percent, to 13,579.89. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX gained 10.02 points, or 0.69 percent, to 1,461.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC gained 9.93 points, or 0.32 percent, to 3,145.16.

The Federal Reserve may adopt numerical thresholds for inflation and joblessness that would serve as guideposts for policy, according to minutes from a September meeting, at which the U.S. central bank launched an open-ended bond buying program to stimulate the economy.

The MSCI global stock index .MIWD00000PUS edged up 0.8 percent to 335.77. Europe’s FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 0.1 percent at 1,100.33, weighed by the gloomy economic sentiment in Europe.

Speculation that Friday’s U.S. jobs data will show stronger-than-expected growth in September weighed on Treasury prices. The benchmark U.S. 10-year note was down 10/32, its yield rising to 1.6508 percent.

“Some accounts believe the payrolls data will be better than the consensus forecast,” said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Navigate Advisors LLC, noting a report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas showing planned job cuts announced for the month of September hit a 15-year low.

Brent crude rose $3.50 to $111.67 per barrel, after falling to its lowest since September 20 on Wednesday. U.S. crude rose $3.18 cents to $91.32, after dropping to its lowest since August 3 in the previous session.

Turkey’s military hit targets inside Syria for the second day on Thursday after a mortar bomb fired from Syrian territory killed five Turkish civilians, marking the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month-old uprising in Syria.

Weakness in the U.S. dollar, which fell 0.7 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY also supported dollar-denominated commodities like oil.

“Turkey’s strikes on Syria caused the short covering after yesterday’s losses in crude and the stock market rise and weak dollar also were factors,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Spot gold rose to an 11-month high of $1,794.40 and last traded at $1,791.95 an ounce. (Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Rodrigo Campos in New York; Editing by Theodore d’Afflisio)

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