Stocks up as investors look to end bruising week on a high

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[April 08, 2016]  By Jamie McGeever

LONDON (Reuters) - Stocks and bond yields rebounded on Friday but were still firmly on track to end lower over the course of a bruising and volatile week marked by the Japanese yen's surge against the dollar.

Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> was up 0.7 percent in early trading, lifted by energy shares thanks to a sharp rise in crude oil prices, but will likely notch up its fourth straight weekly decline.

That would be its longest losing streak since October 2014.

The dollar was also 0.7 percent higher against the yen at 109.00 yen <JPY=>, recovering from its first break below 108.00 since October 2014 the previous day.

"It's been a volatile week, so we're seeing a bit of respite today," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, market strategist at London Capital Group.

"And oil is up by more than 2 percent, which is also a key reason for the upside in equity indices this morning."

Britain's FTSE 100 <.FTSE> was up 0.6 percent, Germany's DAX <.GDAXI> rose 0.7 percent, and France's CAC 40 <.FCHI> was up 0.6 percent.

The STOXX Europe Basic Resources <.SXPP> and the Oil and Gas <.SXEP> indexes were both up around 2 percent, the top two sectoral gainers, tracking the rise in crude prices.

The FTSEurofirst, DAX and CAC are still down on the week, however, although Britain's FTSE is on course to eke out a modest gain.

Earlier in Asia MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> ended flat on the day, closing out the week down 1.2 percent.

Japan's Nikkei <.N225> erased earlier losses after Finance Minister Taro Aso said the government would take steps to counter "one-sided" moves in the yen in either direction.

The yen's <JPY=> strength is regarded as negative for Japan's big exporting firms, and after earlier falling to near-two-month lows, the Nikkei ended the session up 0.5 percent, leaving it with losses of 2.1 percent for the week.

U.S. futures pointed to a rise of around 0.6 percent at the open on Wall Street <ESc1>. The S&P 500 <.SPX> fell 1.2 percent on Thursday, its biggest loss since Feb. 23, and is on course for its biggest weekly decline in two months.


Much of the volatility this week has been fueled by the yen's surge against the dollar, which caught many market participants off-guard and fueled speculation Tokyo could intervene in the currency market to halt the rally.

The dollar rebounded 0.7 percent against the yen on Friday to 109.00, leaving it set for a weekly fall of 2.3 percent. On Thursday it fell as low as 107.67 yen.

Sharp appreciation of the yen against the dollar is often a warning sign of broader financial market stress and investor risk aversion, which has been exacerbated this week by growing uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economic and policy outlook.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in a conversation with former Fed chairmen on Thursday, said the U.S. economy is on a solid course and still on track to warrant further interest rate hikes.

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But many forecasts, including the closely-followed Atlanta Fed GDPNow tracker, have slashed first quarter GDP estimates to just 0.4 percent, and U.S. interest rate futures still see a less than 20 percent chance of a rate hike in June <0#FF:>.

Next up is New York Fed president Bill Dudley, a dovish and influential policymaker, who speaks later on Friday.

"A combination of falling U.S. real rates and elevated market volatility are weighing on the dollar versus the euro and yen," BNP Paribas currency strategists wrote in a note to clients on Friday.

"New York Fed President Dudley speaks today and could provide another counterweight to the various Fed presidents advocating resumption in rate hikes in recent weeks."

The euro <EUR=> was trading at $1.1380, unchanged on the day and flat on the week, having hit a six-month high of $1.1454 on Thursday.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield <US10YT=RR> was last up 3 basis points at 1.72 percent, having fallen to a six-week low of 1.685 percent on Thursday. It has fallen 25 basis points in the last four weeks.

In commodities markets, copper <CMCU3> last traded at $4,672 a tonne, having suffered its biggest fall in more than six months on Thursday, when it slumped 2.8 percent to a six-week low of $4,631 a tonne.

Oil prices rose on Friday after firm economic indicators from the U.S. and Germany implied support for fuel demand, but analysts warned another downturn could be on the way due to ongoing oversupply.


Global benchmark Brent crude futures <LCOc1> climbed 3 percent to $40.63 per barrel, and was set for an increase of 5 percent on the week. U.S. crude <CLc1> advanced 3.4 percent to $38.55, also on track for a 5 percent weekly gain.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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