Equities at all-time high after Nasdaq record

Equities at all-time high after Nasdaq record


(Reuters) - Global equity markets rode to new all-time highs on Friday, with positive corporate updates in Europe and a post-dotcom-boom peak for the U.S. Nasdaq stoking investor optimism. There were also some positive signs from previously deadlocked negotiations between Greece and its international creditors, with Athens offering concessions on some key reforms in exchange for urgently needed new funding. "Optimism of some form of deal does appear to be slowly trickling back," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

The MSCI All-Country World index .MIWD00000PUS hit a lifetime high of 441.1 points, extending a multi-year rally driven by plentiful central bank cash and the global economy's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. On Wall Street on Thursday, the Nasdaq pushed above its previous record set in March 2000, the height of the dotcom boom. Weak readings on U.S. jobless claims, manufacturing and home sales contrasted with the shining share market performance and rekindled doubts about the timing of a U.S. rate hike.

Investor sentiment in Europe was boosted by positive updates from companies including Electrolux (ELUXb.ST) and Renault (RENA.PA). European companies are set for a bumper earnings season on the back of a weak euro and an improved economy. The euro also rose to a two-week high ahead of a key German business sentiment survey, the Ifo, whose business climate indicator rose in April by more than expected. German 10-year Bund yields dipped but remained on track for one of their biggest weekly gains this year. The prospect of a breakthrough in Greece's debt drama underpinned markets.

"We give a low probability to a default event in the coming month and expect a (tentative) deal to be struck by June, at the latest," Credit Suisse economists wrote in a note to clients. "Greece has shown a clear resilience in recent months, given that no official cash has been disbursed to the country for the past eight months or so." MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.9 percent, after marking its highest level since January 2008. China stocks slipped after the country's securities regulator said it would accelerate approval of initial public offerings in an apparent effort to cool the red hot market.

The CSI300 index .CSI300 fell 0.8 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 0.5 percent, with both still on track for robust weekly gains. Japan's Nikkei stock index .N225 ended down 0.8 percent after hitting a 15-year peak on Thursday, but was still up 1.9 percent for the week. Oil prices held steady near 2015 highs reached on Thursday, remaining on track for weekly gains after renewed air strikes in Yemen stoked concerns on the security of Middle East oil shipments.

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