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Shares push higher, bonds steady ahead of Fed

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[October 28, 2014]  By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks inched up and U.S. bond yields steadied after almost three weeks of gains on Tuesday with Federal Reserve policy setters expected to end six years of aggressive monetary stimulus.

The Fed kicks off a two-day meeting later with markets betting on an announcement that it will stop its post-financial crisis high-intensity asset buying and reinforce that a softly-softly approach will be taken to raising rates.

With the euro zone running into turbulence again and China's giant economy also struggling for pace, the prospect of a world without U.S. stimulus has troubled markets over the last couple of months, but they finally seem to be getting used to the idea.

European shares rose for the fourth time is six days, helped by better-than-expected results from pharmaceutical group Novartis and Swiss bank UBS, while the dollar, commodity markets and U.S. bond yields steadied.

"I think in the last few days we have had a reality check," fund management group Hermes' chief economist, Neil Williams, said. "The world is certainly not a happy place at the moment but it hasn't got that much worse in recent weeks."


 


"I'm expecting the Fed to re-assert its dovishness, they haven't come this far including six years of QE (quantitative easing) to end it abruptly and leap towards a rate hike."

London's FTSE <.FTSE>, Germany's DAX <.GDAXI> and France's CAC <.FCHI> were up 0.5, 1.2 and 0.4 percent respectively and the euro <EUR=>, the pound <GBP=> and benchmark German government bonds <DE10YT=TWEB> all traded around recent levels.

Gold <XAU=> also recovered its footing after falling to its lowest in nearly two weeks, while emerging market stocks <.MSCIEF>, which are also seen as vulnerable from reduced U.S. and global stimulus, rose 0.7 percent as hopes of more reforms of state-owned business saw Chinese stocks jump 2 percent.

CROWN SLIPS

Sweden's crown slid to a four-year low against the dollar and a four-month trough against the euro after the country's central bank, the Riksbank, surprised markets with a cut in interest rates to zero.

Most analysts had forecast that the bank would lower its main interest rate, the repo rate, to 0.1 percent from 0.25 percent to fight the risk of deflation. But it went a step further and forecast an even lower rate path for the future.

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"Reading between the lines, it looks like Riksbank will keep rates low... This will weigh on the Swedish crown, with most losses likely to come against the dollar," SEB's chief currency strategist in Stockholm, Carl Hammer, said.

In Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added about 0.4 percent but Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.4 percent after disappointing results from Canon  offset positive retail sales data.

In the United States, data on Monday had been far from encouraging.

Services sector activity slowed in October to a six-month low, while manufacturing output in Texas decreased, providing more evidence that the Fed is likely to take things slowly in the coming months.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against six major rivals, inched up about 0.15 percent in Europe to 85.629 as early Wall Street futures prices pointed to a solid 0.4-0.5 gain for stocks later.

Among commodities, U.S. crude was flat at $81.04 per barrel after dropping as low as $79.44 on Monday, its lowest level since June 2012, after Goldman Sachs cut price forecasts.

Brent crude shed 0.2 percent to $85.65, as concerns about weak global demand and ample supply kept a cloud over the market though growth-attuned metals -- copper, nickel and aluminium -- continued their recent rebound.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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