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Microsoft Corp jumped 4.8 per cent and Visa Inc surged 6.5 per cent on strong earnings, helping boost the S&P 500. — Reuters pic
Microsoft Corp jumped 4.8 per cent and Visa Inc surged 6.5 per cent on strong earnings, helping boost the S&P 500. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, April 28 ― Key US equity indexes ended higher after choppy trade yesterday on a boost from strong earnings from Microsoft and Visa, as commodity stocks lifted European shares to their first gain in four sessions.

The euro dropped to its weakest since 2017 after Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland, and investors fretted more about the region’s economy.

The dollar continued its surge, on course for its biggest monthly gain since January 2015 as expectations mounted that the US Federal Reserve will hike interest rates aggressively in coming months and the American economy will be stronger than the euro zone.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.19 per cent to end at 33,301.93 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.21 per cent to 4,183.92.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.01 per cent to 12,488.93.

Microsoft Corp jumped 4.8 per cent and Visa Inc surged 6.5 per cent on strong earnings, helping boost the S&P 500.

Some of Wall Street’s biggest names have reported results this week, with investors seeking a counterweight to the deluge of negative news that has pounded stocks.

Google-parent Alphabet Inc fell 3.6 per cent as slowing YouTube ad sales pushed quarterly revenue below expectations. Boeing Co dropped 7.5 per cent after it disclosed US$1.5 billion (RM6.5 billion) in abnormal costs from halting 777X production.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.7 per cent after having hit six-week lows at the open, with miners and oil stocks both gaining.

German shares, which underperformed through the session, rallied at the close.

European corporate earnings were mixed. Credit Suisse reported another quarterly loss and Deutsche Bank warned the Russia-Ukraine conflict could hurt annual earnings.

Russia cut the flow of natural gas to Bulgaria and Poland for rejecting its demand to pay in roubles, taking direct aim at European economies. This led investors to sell euros and snap up US dollars.

MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets retreated 0.17 per cent. Emerging markets stocks fell 0.54 per cent.

US Treasury yields rose, as investors awaited greater clarity on the “restrictive” policy the Fed plans to pursue next week to combat inflation by curbing economic growth.

The euro dropped as low as US$1.0512, its weakest against the dollar since May 2017. Analysts cited the war in Ukraine and growing concerns that the bloc’s economy will fall into recession this year.

“The euro’s blatant inability to rally on hawkish comments by European Central Bank members means lingering vulnerability to an external environment negatively affected by an ever-concerning situation in Ukraine and generalized USD strength,” ING FX strategists wrote in a note to clients.

The dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of rivals, hit a five-year high.

“The US dollar benefits from the prospect of an ongoing flight to safety liquidity bid,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of G10 FX strategy at CIBC.

Chinese rebound

There was more selling in Asia, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.82 per cent after hitting its lowest since mid-March. Tokyo’s Nikkei fell 1.17 per cent.

Australian shares lost 0.78 per cent as inflation hit a 20-year high, bringing interest rate rises closer.

Battered Chinese stocks bucked the trend, gaining almost 3 per cent as data showed faster profit growth at industrial firms in March than a year earlier.

In the previous session, China stocks fell to their lowest in two years on fears that persistent Covid lockdowns would hurt economic activity and disrupt global supply chains.

Oil prices edged higher on ongoing global supply concerns, with Brent crude futures finishing up 33 cents to US$105.32 a barrel and US crude settling up 32 cents at US$102.02 a barrel.

Spot gold prices hit a more than two-month low and were last down 1.05 per cent by 4.34pm EST (2034 GMT), under pressure from the dollar’s rally. US gold futures settled down 0.8 per cent at US$1,888.70 per ounce. ― Reuters

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