Asian stocks rose to a 14-month high and the U.S. dollar steadied on Tuesday, with some investors taking bets that third-quarter U.S. corporate earnings, expected to shrink for the ninth quarter, will be good enough to keep a rally going.
Major European stock markets were little changed in early trade ahead of company results this week from such bellwethers as Intel, Goldman Sachs and General Electric
Investors are looking for stronger revenues to both confirm a global economic recovery and justify higher share price valuations after a seven-month-long equity rally. Profits last quarter were largely underpinned by cost cutting, not a rebound in consumer or business demand.
Oil prices rose for a fourth day after settling at a seven-week high on Monday. A steady 11 percent decline in the U.S. dollar against a basket of currencies since March has supported commodity prices.
Wall Street finished higher on Monday, but late session profit-taking made some investors unsure how to play results from Intel, the world's biggest chip maker, which is due to report after New York market close on Tuesday.
The focus will be on the outlook for business spending given Intel's global reach.
When Intel reports earnings, its outlook will likely be particularly in focus. If chipmakers were to say they expect demand to increase, that would mean the economy is on the mend, said Mitsuo Shimizu, deputy general manager at Cosmo Securities in Tokyo.
ASIAN ENERGY, FINANCIAL STOCKS GAIN
After a long holiday weekend, Japan's Nikkei share average rose 0.6 percent, with electronics and car maker stocks among the main supports to the index.
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.7 percent in choppy trading to the highest since Aug 12. The energy, financial and telecommunications sectors outperformed, while industrials, IT and consumer discretionary underperformed.
The all-country world equities index hit a 1-year high on Monday and looked set to test that high on Tuesday.
South Korea's benchmark KOSPI fell 0.7 percent, the worst performing major market in the region, on fears earnings may peak in the third quarter.
A report that North Korea was preparing to fire more short-range missiles a day after it launched five off its east coast had a limited impact on financial markets.
This week 29 companies in the S&P 500 will post results. The entire S&P 500 is expected to show earnings shrank 25 percent in the third quarter compared with a year ago, though financials will reflect the highest growth rate of any industry, at 58 percent, Thomson Reuters research showed.
In currency markets, the U.S. dollar had a respite. The euro was largely unchanged at $1.4780 and the dollar was trading up 0.3 percent to 90.07 yen
The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index, which gauges its value against a basket of six other major currencies, was up 0.1 percent but still close to a 14-month low hit last Thursday.
After a drubbing last week, U.S. Treasuries rose, with the benchmark 10-year yield slipping to 3.35 percent from 3.38 percent late on Friday in New York.
Minutes of the last Federal Reserve policy meeting due on Wednesday will be of particular interest given recent comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that were interpreted by dealers as being hawkish on interest rates.
U.S. crude for November delivery rose 11 cents to $73.38 a barrel after rising for three straight sessions to settle at a seven-week high the previous day. Brent was at $71.56
A monthly report by producer group OPEC, due later in the day, as well as the direction of equity markets, could also offer clues on the outlook for global oil demand.
Sentiment is moderately positive, and while fundamentals do not necessarily justify higher prices, the trend of a weaker dollar has been a big boost, said Sumisho Sano, General Manager of Research at SCM Securities in Tokyo.
(Additional reporting by Aiko Hayashi in TOKYO and Jennifer Tan in SINGAPORE)
(Editing by Kim Coghill)