GLOBAL MARKETS-Earnings help stocks but dollar bulls show nerves

By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE, April 28 (Reuters)Share markets steadied on Thursday, taking comfort in technology earnings, though an energy crisis in Europe and China’s lengthy lockdowns kept the mood cautious and have propelled the dollar close to 20-year highs as investors seek out safety and yield.

Nasdaq 100 futures NQc1 were up 1% in the Asia session and S&P 500 futures ESc1 rose 0.7% after Facebook owner Meta FB.O beat Wall Street profit forecasts and said it had eked out user growth, sending its shares up almost 20% after hours.

A rally in Microsoft MSFT.O shares overnight also helped Wall Street indexes to a steady close. .N

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.5%, led by a 1% bounce in Australian stocks .AXJO from Wednesday’s one-month trough. .AX

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 rose 0.6%. .T

“The real question is, whether this really matters for a durable turnaround in otherwise fraught global circumstances,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

“Volatility is still high .. .even if not outright fear, the trepidation is hard to miss with on-going uncertainty from the war in Ukraine, which continues to threaten with more widespread economic pain.”

The most recent pressure point has been Russia’s halt on gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland on Wednesday, which sent tremors through European energy markets and whacked the euro.

Benchmark European gas prices TRNLTTFMc1 jumped 10% overnight while the euro EUR=EBS hit a five-year low of $1.0514 and is headed for its worst month since early 2015.

The currency is now perilously close to huge chart support levels stretching from $1.0500 down to a trough from 2017 at $1.0344. A break would take it to depths not seen since 2002 and risk a damaging decline below parity. FRX/

The drop has sent the U.S. dollar index =USD to a five-year high of 103.28 and a further push above 103.82 would see it to levels not visited since late 2002.

“With Covid lockdown fears in China exaggerating upside risks for the dollar we recognise the possibility of a stronger-for-longer dollar,” said Rabobank FX strategist Jane Foley, adding the bank was revising its forecast for a euro rebound.

U.S. growth data is due later on Thursday and could pause the dollar’s advance, especially since overnight data showed a blowout in the U.S. trade deficit and prompted forecast downgrades.

Elsewhere the Japanese yen JPY=EBS was under pressure at 128.71 ahead of the Bank of Japan’s policy meeting, also on Thursday, where focus will be on any sort of response to the yen’s recent slide.

Oil inched lower and Brent crude futures LCOc1 were last down 0.4% to $104.95 a barrel on concern about Chinese demand as rising coronavirus cases suggest extended lockdowns. O/R

Palm oil FCPOc3 was supported by major producer Indonesia on Wednesday widening its export ban.

World FX rates YTD

Global asset performance

Asian stock markets

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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