World equity markets advanced on Friday, pushed higher by a spate of data that showed the U.S. economy and sentiment still on the road to recovery as investors cheered double-digit gains at the end of the quarter.
While the pace of business activity in the Midwest slowed more than expected in March as employment and new orders dropped from elevated levels, U.S. consumer confidence rebounded to its highest in more than a year in March and U.S. consumer spending increased by the most in seven months in February.
Despite a slowdown in manufacturing, as seen by data from Institute for Supply Management-Chicago, business activity continues to grow, although at a slower pace, said David Song, a currency analyst at DailyFX in New York.
When we take everything into account, it really suggests the economy is getting on a more sustainable path and really curbs the Fed's scope to expand monetary policy further, Song said.
Stocks on Wall Street followed global equity markets higher, although they eased from initial gains at the opening.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 34.32 points, or 0.26 percent, at 13,180.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was up 2.52 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,405.80. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 4.69 points, or 0.15 percent, at 3,090.67.
European share prices rose following a three-day drop, as bargain hunters scooped up cyclical mining and auto shares after a deal by euro zone finance ministers to boost the currency bloc's firewall reassured investors.
The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares was up 0.7 percent at 1,066.59 points.
MSCI's all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS rose 0.4 percent, pushing its gain up more than 11 percent so far this year for its best quarterly performance since the third quarter of 2010.
Prices of U.S. government debt were mixed, with the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note down 1/32 in price to yield 2.16 percent. The 30-year U.S. Treasury bond was flat, yielding 3.27 percent.
The euro rose against the dollar and the yen as Spain's budget boosted hopes that one of the euro zone's larger economies would tighten its belt even as long-term worries about regional growth could cap the currency's gains.
The euro rose 0.4 percent against the dollar to $1.3349 and gained 0.21 percent to 109.85 yen in choppy trading.
Crude oil rose to about $123 a barrel after three consecutive days of declines, with support from a weaker dollar and expectations of tight gasoline supplies in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer.
Front-month Brent crude futures were up 83 cents to $123.22 a barrel, recovering from their sharpest daily fall in more than three weeks.