World stocks hit a one-month high on Friday on growing optimism that the earnings season may turn out to be better than expected, while investors set their eyes on giants such as Citigroup for clearer market trend.
Reassuring quarterly earnings from JPMorgan , Goldman Sachs and Intel earlier this week boosted hopes about an economic recovery. Bank of America and General Electric were due later along with Citi.
European shares recorded a fifth straight day of gains, with the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares rising 0.5 percent. Britain's FTSE100 <.FTSE>, Germany's DAX <.GDAXI> and France's CAC-40 <.FCHI> climbed between 0.5 percent and 0.9 percent.
MSCI global equities index <.MIWD00000PUS>, which has gained 6.5 percent so far this week on corporate earnings results, was up 0.2 percent after touching its highest level since June 15. Emerging stocks <.MSCIEF> also hit a one-month peak.
The markets have been given a much needed shot in the arm by the encouraging set of numbers coming out from the banking sector, said Owen Ireland, analyst at ODL Securities in London.
Whilst confidence levels can often be perception, the reality is that we have seen a consistent set of results from some of the worlds' largest institutions.
Financial shares were among top gainers in Europe, with HSBC , Barclays , Lloyds , BNP Paribas and Societe Generale up 0.1-1.5 percent.
U.S. stocks rallied for a fourth day on Thursday after JPMorgan's strong results, while Japan's Nikkei <.N225> average closed up 0.6 percent on Friday, but gains were capped by political uncertainty ahead of an election next month.
Some analysts said that it was too early to be too optimistic about the global economy as data was still ringing warning bells and some companies face a liquidity crunch.
A survey showed on Thursday that factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region contracted for a 10th consecutive month in July, posting a worse than expected decline.
And CIT Group Inc was in discussions on Thursday with potential lenders to secure financing, after the collapse of rescue talks with the government left the 101-year-old U.S. lender to hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses on the brink of bankruptcy.
The market is looking for good news and it is interpreting everything as good news. Whether it is interpreting it correctly, I am not too sure, said Justin Urquhart Stewart, director at Seven Investment Management.
He said that earnings results showed that banks were doing well, but a recovery in the global economy was still slow.
DOLLAR FIRM, OILS SLIP
The dollar and yen were firmer against other major currencies as caution set in before more corporate earnings. The euro was down 0.4 percent at $1.4090 and down 0.5 percent at 131.95 yen.
Brighter sentiment had almost caused currency pairs to break out of consolidation patterns. Euro/dollar is still holding its symmetrical triangle dating back to the start of June.
Euro zone government bond futures pushed higher, catching a bid after bomb blasts ripped through hotels in Indonesia and as investors fretted about the possible bankruptcy of CIT Group.
The bomb blasts at the JW Marrriott and the Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta's business district killed nine people and wounded dozens, rattling investors in the region.
Strategists however see the bond market losing some momentum as European equities rose.
Obviously we had a bounce back yesterday on the back of data and CIT news and that flowed through today given events in Indonesia, said Sean Maloney, interest rate strategist at Nomura in London.
We have seen a little bit of safety bid but not sure there's going to be a lot to push it higher ... We have a lot of earnings coming out from the U.S. today and that's going to be the main focus, he said.
The Bund future was 28 ticks up at 121.76 compared with 121.48 at Thursday's settlement close. In the cash market, 10-year Bunds yielded 3.331 percent, up slightly from levels in late Thursday trade.
In the commodity market, crude oil fell 0.6 percent to trade below $62 barrel, but was on course to rise about 2.8 percent this week.
Spot gold was steady after dropping in the previous session, but key base metals traded lower.
(Additional reporting by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Dominic Lau and Tamawa Desai)