Jackson Hole summit: focus of world markets

Jackson Hole summit is where the Fed's Bernanke will deliver a highly anticipated speech Friday. World markets pushed stocks up, gold down in anticipation that the central banker will announce possible moves at the Jackson Hole summit.

Susan Walsh/AP/File
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington last month before the Senate Banking Committee. World markets are moving in anticipation of what Mr. Bernanke will say at Friday's Jackson Hole summit.

World stocks edged up on Thursday while gold fell sharply as investors were optimistic the Federal Reserve would signal at a gathering this week that it is committed to supporting the U.S. economy if necessary.

Fed chief Ben Bernanke is due to address central bankers at an annual symposium in Jackson Hole,Wyoming, on Friday. His speech last year laid the groundwork for the Fed's $600 billion bond-buying programme to revive a sputtering U.S. economy.

While many doubt Bernanke will immediately commit to conducting a third round of quantitative easing at the Jackson Hole summit, investors generally expect him to stress that the central bank stands ready to act if necessary.

"Everyone is waiting to see what comes of the Wyoming meeting. I would be uncomfortable being aggressively short going into the weekend. And corporate results don't look too bad," said Andy Lynch, fund manager at Schroders.

The MSCI world equity index rose 0.3 percent. The benchmark index is on track to post its first weekly gain in five weeks, having hit an 11-month low earlier this month.

European stocks added 0.4 percent while emerging stocks were steady on the day.

French bank Credit Agricole and Austria's Raiffeisen Bank both rose after reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings, and the STOXX Europe 600 banking index was up 2.1 percent.

U.S. stock futures were up 0.1 percent , pointing to a slightly firmer open on Wall Street.

Technology shares will be in the spotlight after Steve Jobs resigned as chief executive of Apple . Appleshares fell more than 4 percent in Frankfurt after a 7 percent tumble in after-hours trade on Wall Street.

London Brent crude oil rose 0.5 percent to $110.70.

Bund futures fell 33 ticks, but investors remained jittery about the euro zone debt crisis.

Greek two-year bond yields rose to 44.77 percent, after surging more than 400 basis points on Wednesday on uncertainty over implementation of a second rescue package.

Greece agreed last week to provide cash collateral for triple-A rated Finland's loans in a bilateral deal that sparked requests for similar treatment from Austria, the Netherlands and Slovakia. This prompted rating agency Moody's to warn that Greece's bailout payments could be delayed.

"Greece is missing, in the first seven months of the year, its deficit-reduction targets as the recession reduces the tax receipts for the government," said ING rate strategist Alessandro Giansanti.

"In this environment, the odds of a full default event for the Greek bonds have substantially increased."

The dollar dipped 0.1 percent against a basket of major currencies. Any more money printing by the Fed would pressure the dollar, potentially triggering a spike in commodity prices as it did last year.

The euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.4427.

Gold extended its sharp decline, after posting its biggest daily drop in futures since 1980 on Wednesday. Spot gold fell to $1,702 an ounce, taking losses to more than $200 since it hit a record high of $1,911.46 earlier in the week.

The fall came after CME Group raised trading margins on bullion futures by about 27 percent, the biggest hike in more than two and a half years and the second increase in a month.

Gold prices had jumped $400 since July as worries about a global recession sent investors scrambling for the safe-haven asset.

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