Global stock markets jumped more than one percent on Thursday to their highest since early January as investors bet on a stabilization of the ailing world economy and took heart from some upbeat corporate earnings.
Asia stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> led the way, scaling six-month peaks and markets such as Taiwan <.TWII> recorded their biggest one-day gain in 19 years.
Both the MSCI world index <.MIWD00000PUS> and its emerging markets component <.MSCIEF> are on course for 12 percent and 17 pct gains respectively in April -- their biggest one-month gains in the 20-year history of the indices.
European markets followed suit, with the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares up 1.4 percent, adding to a 1.9 percent gain on Wednesday to hit a 11-week closing high.
Global market sentiment was buoyed after the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest policy statement on Wednesday said the economic outlook was improving while it vowed to keep interest rates at historic lows for longer and retain a super-easy money stance.
The FOMC (The Federal Open Market Committee) was very positive, and that's exactly what investors were looking for, said Joshua Raymond, strategist at City Index in London.
Positive earnings surprises on Thursday from the likes of mining group Anglo American Plc
But the shift in investment gears from super-safe assets into relatively riskier, higher-yielding assets has been gaining traction through the second-quarter so far.
People were so bearish that the burden of proof to surprise people is relatively low, said Adrian Mowat, emerging market and Asia equity strategist at JPMorgan Chase in Hong Kong. As earnings expectations are revised up with economic activity, the market goes up with that.
Even though the outbreak of swine flu and fears for a pandemic briefly stalled the rally on Monday, investors are already betting the economic fallout from the spread of the virus will be limited as the mortality rate is contained.
For many investors, the bullish mood reflects a growing conviction the swathe of emergency fiscal and monetary policies now in place to stimulate the world economy will now prevent a deep depression taking hold and that some cyclical recovery will may well be underway by yearend.
First-quarter U.S. gross domestic product data out on Wednesday reinforced that view. A record drop in U.S. business inventories and surprisingly robust consumer spending were widely seen by economists as positive pointing to a growth pick-up in the world's largest economy in coming months.
There is a feeling that the Armageddon story is off, albeit it at the price of a generational collapse in fiscal prudence, Alan Ruskin, economist at RBS said in a note to clients.
Q1 GDP accelerated the bad news (ie the contraction in investment and inventory adjustment) -- leading to some upward revisions going forward.
Obviously this market could get hit extremely hard by a swine flu story, but the perception that the negative tail risks on growth are dissipating will provide some backbone to risk appetite, said Ruskin.
Apart from the surge in equity markets, the rise in risk appetite could be seen across global prices.
The dollar slid as investors shifted funds into higher-yielding currencies. The dollar shed 0.5 percent to 84.24 <.DXY>, while the euro climbed 0.4 percent to 1.3310.
Gold and oil prices both rose. Government bond, seen as safe-havens in times of stress, fell back.
At 0915 GMT, June German government bund futures were down 72 ticks on the day at 122.36, compared with Wednesday's settlement close, having earlier touched a session low of 122.32.
The Australian dollar was up 0.7 percent at $0.7325, adding to hefty gains scored the previous day as market players chased the relatively higher-yielding currency on the rally in equities.
(Additional reporting by Eric Burroughs in Hong Kong and Simon Falush in London. Editing by Toby Chopra)