Wall Street. Picture: BLOOMBERG/MICHAEL NAGLE
Wall Street. Picture: BLOOMBERG/MICHAEL NAGLE

New York — Wall Street led stocks higher globally on Thursday, despite declines in Asia, as investors focused on an earnings season expected to be strong and after US President Donald Trump cast doubt over the timing of his threatened strike on Syria.

The risk of clashes between Western powers and Russia in Syria over an alleged chemical attack eased somewhat as Trump reworded a Wednesday threat that missiles "will be coming" while taunting Russia for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Trump wrote on Thursday that an attack on Syria "could be very soon or not so soon at all". Investors turned their focus to corporate earnings as BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, reported quarterly profit above Wall Street estimates. Its shares were up 2.4%. Analysts expect quarterly profit for all S&P 500 companies to rise 18.4% from a year ago, the biggest gain in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters.

"We’re seeing some early optimism ahead of earnings and there’s no bad news for the moment" said André Bakhos, MD at New Vines Capital in New Jersey, speaking in part of the "back and forth between Russia and the US" on Syria.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 297.58 points, or 1.23%, to 24,487.03, the S&P 500 gained 24.82 points, or 0.94%, to 2,667.01 and the Nasdaq Composite added 82.70 points, or 1.17%, to 7,151.73.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.68% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.42%. Emerging-market stocks rose 0.03%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.31% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.12%. The higher risk appetite as geopolitical tensions eased boosted US treasury yields as bond prices fell. The Japanese yen and crude oil prices also fell.

"There is less immediate concern about military strikes or action in Syria," said Jim Vogel, interest rates strategist at FTN Financial in Memphis. "It doesn’t move it to the back-burner, but it allows you to look around and trade other things and that gives room for rates to rise just a little bit from their sort of cramped or compressed levels."

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 9/32 in price to yield 2.8211%, from 2.79% late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond last fell 18/32 in price to yield 3.0327%, from 3.005% late on Wednesday.

US crude fell 0.57% to $66.44 a barrel and Brent was last at $71.44, down 0.86% on the day.

The dollar index was on track to snap a four-day losing streak as it rose 0.31%, with the euro down 0.39% to $1.2317.

"It’s a reversal of the safe-haven trade that lifted the yen and the Swiss franc earlier in the week," said Karl Schamotta, director of global product and market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.

The yen weakened 0.53% against the dollar at ¥107.38, while the dollar was up 0.56% against the Swiss franc. Sterling was last trading at $1.4228, up 0.37% on the day.

Safe-haven gold fell from an 11-week high as the dollar gained and investors booked profits. Spot gold dropped 1.2% to $1,336.51 an ounce. US gold futures fell 1.49% to $1,339.80 an ounce.

Copper lost 1.88% to $6,819.50 a tonne.

Reuters

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