Shares rally after Russia-Ukraine deal, Swedish quantitative easing surprise

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A ceasefire between Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces and surprisingly aggressive stimulus from Sweden’s central bank injected optimism into global equity markets, which had been numbed by a stalemate over Greece debt negotiations.

U.S. Treasury prices pulled up from overnight lows on data showing U.S. consumer spending barely rose in January and higher-than-expected initial claims for state unemployment benefits, suggesting the economy started the first quarter on a softer note.

Stocks on Wall Street opened higher and European shares reversed opening losses, as they also took heart from a broadly positive raft of results on one of the busiest days in Europe’s corporate earnings calendar.

Even Greek stocks surged, with bank shares jumping 10 percent. Investors ignored the uncertainty after seven hours of talks in Brussels between Greece and its creditors failed to produce so much as a joint statement on the next steps, instead pinning their hopes on a deal being struck on Monday.

Investors also took cues from the ceasefire in Ukraine that will take effect from Feb. 15, and the Swedish Riksbank’s decision to cut interest rates below zero and buy government bonds.

“You have all these sort of overseas positives and two domestic negatives with the claims data and the retail sales data missing,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors in New York.

The ceasefire deal came shortly after the International Monetary Fund announced a new four-year funding program for Ukraine that will total $ 40 billion.

MSCI’s all-country world index <.MIWD00000PUS> rose 0.99 percent, while the FTSEuroFirst index of 300 leading shares <.FTEU3> rose 0.75 percent to 1494.82.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 62.84 points, or 0.35 percent, to 17,924.98. The S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 12.71 points, or 0.61 percent, to 2,081.24 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 33.34 points, or 0.69 percent, to 4,834.52.

Major European indexes hit multi-year highs, further boosted by encouraging corporate reports.

Sweden’s benchmark OMXS30 <.OMXS30> equity index hit a record high, while Germany’s DAX <.GDAXI> rose 1.7 percent to approach record levels and France’s CAC <.FCHI> rose 1.2 percent to its highest in about seven years.

Shares of Swiss bank Credit Suisse <CSGN.VX> and French car-maker Renault <RENA.PA> were among the leaders, rising 9.5 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively.

Sterling jumped after the Bank of England raised its UK growth and inflation forecasts, while Sweden’s surprise policy decision sent the crown to a six-year low against the dollar.

Sterling rose 0.8 percent against the euro to a seven-year high of 73.715 pence <EURGBP=D4>, before paring gains to turn slightly lower.

The Swedish crown fell by as much 2 percent against the dollar to hit 8.5512 crowns <SEK=>, its weakest since April 2009, before recovering somewhat to 8.4595 to the dollar, down about 1 percent on the day.

Elsewhere in currencies, the euro inched up 0.45 percent to $ 1.1382 <EUR=>. Against the yen <JPY=>, the dollar fell 1.1 percent to 119.10.

The price of the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury <US10YT=RR> fell 1/32 to yield 1.9827 percent.

Prices on Germany’s 10-year bund <DE10YT=TWEB> rose, pushing its yield down to 0.331 percent.

Brent crude prices rose nearly $ 2 after two days of declines, as a weakened dollar and industry spending cuts offset oversupply worries.

U.S. crude <CLc1> was up $ 1.14 to $ 49.98 a barrel after dropping as much as 3 percent overnight, and Brent crude <LCOc1> was up $ 1.80 at $ 56.46.

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(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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