April 24, 2015 / 12:38 AM / in 3 years

Equities hit record highs, dollar weakens on gloomy data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Equity markets worldwide climbed to record highs on Friday as solid corporate earnings and an all-time peak for the Nasdaq stock index stoked investor optimism, while the dollar eased on gloomy U.S. economic data.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Google Inc (GOOGL.O) led Wall Street higher, pushing the Nasdaq to a second straight record closing high a day after it topped a record that had stood for more than 15 years.

The S&P 500 also notched a new closing high.

The MSCI All-Country World Index .MIWD00000PUS hit a lifetime high of 442.05, extending a multi-year rally driven by plentiful central bank funding and the global economy’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

“I think we’re on more solid footing than the last time,” said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York, comparing the latest Nasdaq highs with those in 2000, just before the Internet bubble burst.

“There could be some vulnerability in some of the tech names, given the change in the value of the dollar, but I don’t get the same sense that we’re over-valued at these levels the way we were the last time we got here,” he said.

Investor sentiment in Europe was boosted by positive updates from companies including Electrolux (ELUXb.ST) and Renault (RENA.PA). European companies are set for a bumper earnings season on the back of a weak euro and an improved economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed up 21.45 points, or 0.12 percent, to 18,080.14. The S&P 500 .SPX rose 4.76 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,117.69 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 36.02 points, or 0.71 percent, to 5,092.09.

With 201 of the S&P 500 companies having reported first-quarter results, 69.7 percent have beaten expectations, a hair less than the average the past four quarters, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 stock index .FTEU3 rose 0.4 percent to close at 1,626.83, supported by a German business survey that rose by more than expected for April. The prospect of a break-through in Greece’s debt drama underpinned markets.

Oil prices were mixed, with Brent hitting 4-1/2-month highs on continued fighting in Yemen while U.S. crude fell on worries of another upcoming stock build. Both benchmarks were headed toward weekly gains.

Brent crude LCOc1 rose 43 cents to settle at $65.28 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 fell 59 cents to settle at $57.15.

Data showing a seventh straight monthly fall in U.S. business spending plans knocked the dollar lower and gave Federal Reserve policymakers even less reason to raise near-zero interest rates any time soon.

The euro EUR= rose 0.37 percent to $1.0864, while against the yen JPY=, the dollar was off 0.57 percent at 118.88 yen. The dollar index .DXY touched a three-week low and was last down 0.4 percent at 96.901.

U.S. Treasuries prices rose as weak U.S. business investment data for March supported the view that it is unlikely the Fed will signal next week it is close to raising rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

U.S. 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR were up 10/32 in price to yield 1.9104 percent.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos and Herbert Lash; Editing by Toby Chopra, Jonathan Oatis, Dan Grebler and James Dalgleish

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