Stocks Lifted by Upbeat Earnings, Stable Commodity Prices

By Riva Gold and Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Global stocks were mostly firmer Tuesday, bolstered by upbeat earnings reports and steadying commodity prices.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 13 points, or 0.1%, to 21025 shortly after the opening bell. The S&P 500 rose 0.1% and Nasdaq Composite gained 0.2% after both indexes inched higher Monday to settle at record highs.

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Marriott International rose after posting better-than-expected earnings, while shares of Discovery Communications fell 4% on its results.

"There is a strong economic backdrop and robust earnings: That environment is conducive to being invested [in stocks]," said Mouhammed Choukeir, chief investment officer at Kleinwort Hambros.

Mr. Choukeir favors European equities, where he says companies are posting better-than-expected earnings in a healthy economy and trade at lower valuations than their U.S. counterparts.

The Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.5%, on track for its best finish since 2015. "People are starting to believe that maybe the European story is back on its feet," he said.

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Mining and energy companies led gains in Europe as Brent crude oil steadied around $49.05 a barrel, while copper futures edged up 0.3% after falling for four of the last five sessions. Steep falls in commodity prices -- -in part attributed to China's moves to tighten credit -- -have been a source of worry for investors this month. Europe's basic resources sector climbed 1.4% Tuesday, but remained the month's worst-performing sector to date.

Shares of Commerzbank also gave a lift to Europe's banking sector after it reported higher-than-expected profit and revenue in the first quarter.

Across stocks markets, volatility has subsided, and investors are betting that isn't likely to change in the near future. A widely watched measure of investor anxiety, the CBOE Volatility Index, fell to its lowest level since 1993 on Monday. The VSTOXX measure of volatility implied by Euro Stoxx 50 options has also dropped, last hovering around 14.2, down nearly 40% from a month ago.

"Intraday moves have been relatively small compared to history," said Richard Crist, head of trading services at QMA, which manages about $120.5 billion in assets. "Markets haven't really moved much except when we've had commentary come out of Washington," he said.

In currencies, the WSJ Dollar Index was up 0.4% ahead of speeches from Federal Reserve officials. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester on Monday called for the central bank to raise rates and said it can likely start shrinking its holdings of bonds and other assets later this year.

Fed-fund futures tracked by CME Group currently show investors see a nearly 88% chance of a rate rise in June.

The euro extended declines and was last down 0.4% at $1.0878 after its biggest daily decline in more than a month, as traders took profits following the expected victory of centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in France's presidential election on Sunday.

In bond markets, 10-year German bund yields inched up to 0.434% from 0.417% and French yields climbed to 0.805% from 0.768% as investors shifted focus from eurozone political risks to the European Central Bank's next move. 10-year U.S. Treasury yields rose to 2.402% from 2.376%. Yields move inversely to prices.

Earlier, Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.5% as underwhelming results from Commonwealth Bank of Australia and reports that the Australian government would introduce a bank tax weighed on shares of lenders.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.3%, supported by a recovery in shares of gambling companies and as Chinese markets pared losses that had been stoked by concerns about a clampdown in speculative trading. Stocks in Shenzhen were up 0.7% while the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.1% after five sessions of losses.

"We are approaching the end of the tightening cycle," said Caroline Yu Maurer, head of Greater China Equities at BNP Paribas Investment Partners.

"What [Chinese authorities] are trying to do is squeeze out some of the irregularities without hitting liquidity."

Japanese stocks pulled back 0.3% after Monday's jump to 17-month highs, despite a modest fall in the yen. Japanese wages fell for the first time since last May, government data showed.

Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said he would act "quickly" to expand stimulus measures if inflation loses traction, but noted no additional steps are needed at the moment.

Saurabh Chaturvedi, Takashi Nakamichi,

Robb Stewart

and Suryatapa Bhattacharya contributed to this article.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com and Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 09, 2017 09:55 ET (13:55 GMT)