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Stocks make strong start to second half; dollar flat

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NEW YORK - Stock markets around the world rose at the start of the second half of 2014 on Tuesday, propelled by solid U.S. and Chinese data and the notion that central banks will keep interest rates low for some time.

Encouraging U.S. and Chinese factory figures pointed to stabilization in the world's two biggest economies, while weaker data on euro zone manufacturing and inflation supported the view the European Central Bank might lower interest rates to help the region's businesses and avert deflation.

"The latest data from China suggests that the main economic and oil demand growth engine of the world may be starting to turn the corner toward the upside," said Dominick Chirichella, founding partner of the Energy Management Institute in New York.

There was relief among euro zone banks after France's largest, BNP Paribas, on Monday pleaded guilty and agreed to pay almost $9 billion for violating U.S. sanctions against Sudan and other countries.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 116.37 points or 0.69 percent, to 16,942.97, the S&P 500 gained 10.16 points or 0.52 percent, to 1,970.39 and the Nasdaq Composite added 40.801 points or 0.93 percent, to 4,448.979.

The S&P hit an intraday record high at 1,971.24.

Top European shares were up 0.6 percent, while Japan's Nikkei closed up 1.1 percent.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, rose 2.03 points or 0.47 percent, to 430.78.

HOME ON THE RANGE

While Wall Street stocks posted another quarter of gains on Monday, the dollar and U.S. government bond yields have been rangebound as the U.S. Federal Reserve has shown no sign it will raise interest rates anytime soon.

One big market bet for the first half was for a rise in the dollar on the view the Fed is inching towards its first post-crisis rate hike, but this predictions has fallen flat.

The dollar index fell to a seven-week low of 79.759 on Monday and stood barely above that at 79.791 early Tuesday.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasuries yields, a gauge for the greenback and global borrowing costs, traded around 2.55 percent, up 3 basis points on the day.

Gold held steady as fighting in Iraq and Ukraine fed demand for the precious metal, keeping it at a 2-1/2-month high.

Brent crude was last up $0.02, or up 0.02 percent, at $112.38 a barrel. U.S. crude was last up $0.45, or up 0.43 percent, at $105.82 per barrel.

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