Global stock markets turn higher on earnings

An investor stands in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Fuyang, Anhui province, China, on July 30, 2015.

REUTERS/China Daily

BEIJING - Most major global markets rose Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at a record low, corporate earnings mostly did better than expected and investors awaited U.S. economic growth figures.

Germany's DAX gained 0.5 percent to 11,263.71 and France's CAC-40 was up 0.6 percent at 5,047.43. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.7 percent to 6,680.37. On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 both flat.

Fed policymakers voted Wednesday to leave interest rates unchanged and gave no indication a rise was imminent. The Fed said the U.S. economy is improving but signaled that it wants to see further economic gains and higher inflation before raising rates. Many investors expect the Fed will still lift rates in September or December, but its statement gave no timing for the raise. Low interest rates have been good for stock investors, helping fuel a bull market that has lasted more than six years.

"You have to hand it to the Federal Reserve. They look primed to put up the fed funds rate in September, perhaps December. Yet at the same time, equities looks supported and the yield curve remains unchanged," said IG chief strategist Chris Weston in a market commentary. "If the object of its communication exercise is to ease the market into a normalization process without causing a stir in capital markets, then you would give their performance a nine out of ten."

Attention later will turn to U.S. economic growth figures for the second quarter, which are expected to show a rise of 2.7 percent annually. Experts think that a steadily improving job market is giving households more income to spend, helping business activity. The growth figures could help shape when the Fed will start raising interest rates.

Stocks were boosted by a strong batch of corporate earnings. In Europe, Nokia shares jumped 9 percent after its networks division showed strong growth in the second quarter. Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lufthansa also reported increases in earnings. Royal Dutch Shell saw its shares rise 4 percent as it promised job and spending cuts to cope with lower oil prices.


In Asia, the Shanghai benchmark suffered its biggest one-day drop in eight years on Monday when it plunged 8.5 percent despite government intervention to stem a slide in stock prices. The index fell further before rebounding 3.5 percent on Wednesday and then slipping again Thursday. Analysts say the volatility is a sign economic fundamentals cannot support stock prices at their current level. Other say even if the intervention restores confidence, markets are likely to face turbulence in coming weeks before prices settle down.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.2 percent to 3,705.77 for its third losing day this week. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.5 percent to 24,497.98. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 advanced 1.1 percent to 20,525.80 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8 percent to 5,669.50. Seoul's Kospi shed 0.9 percent to 2,019.03. Benchmarks in India, Taiwan and the Philippines rose.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 44 cents to $49.23 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped 81 cents to close at $48.79 on Wednesday.

The dollar rose to 124.29 yen from Wednesday's 123.90 yen. The euro edged down to $1.0972 from the previous session's $1.0986.