By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A global stock gauge rose on Wednesday, boosted by a technology-led rebound on Wall Street, while Brazilian markets were shaken by the death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash.
Investors were optimistic about a possible de-escalation of the conflict on the Russia-Ukraine border, giving stocks support, while copper, a barometer for global economic growth, fell more than 1 percent to a seven-week low.
Investor anxiety over the standoff between Russia and Ukraine ebbed slightly after Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said late on Tuesday that the possibility of Russia's military invading eastern Ukraine had receded after Moscow agreed to send in humanitarian aid under Red Cross auspices.
Still, Ukraine denounced the convoy as an act of Russian cynicism and said it would not be allowed to cross the border.
"The market seems comfortable with what's going on abroad, and while there's always a risk of escalation, which would give the market pause, trying to anticipate that is pure speculation," said David Lebovitz, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.
"Focusing on fundamentals has us viewing any weakness as a buying opportunity," he added.
Technology and biotech shares were the top gainers on Wall Street, more than offsetting data that showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly stalled in July, pointing to some loss of momentum in the economy.
"Investors seem to be looking past the retail numbers and seeing the silver lining, which is that the Fed could be less hawkish and keep interest rates down for longer," said Lawrence Glazer, managing partner at Mayflower Advisors in Boston.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) rose 91.26 points, or 0.55 percent, to end at 16,651.8, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 12.97 points, or 0.67 percent, to 1,946.72, and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 44.88 points, or 1.02 percent, to 4,434.13.
MSCI's world stock index <.MIWD00000PUS> rose 0.6 percent.
Brazil's Bovespa index (.BVSP) fell as much as 2.1 percent before closing down 1.5 percent after news that presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in a plane crash in the southeastern city of Santos.
Campos, a former ally of President Dilma Rousseff, was running on a business-friendly platform and was in third place in recent polls with the support of about 10 percent of voters.
The Brazilian currency (BRL=) weakened to as much as 2.2880 per dollar, and was last down 0.2 percent at $2.2814.
In other currency markets, sterling fell 0.7 percent against the U.S. dollar to a four-month low of $1.6685 after the Bank of England slashed its forecast for wage growth, prompting investors to push back expectations of when interest rates would rise. It was last at $1.6688. [GBP/]
The euro was little changed against the greenback after earlier rising to as much as $1.3415 (EUR=) following the U.S. retail sales data.
"I would expect to see the impact of the retail sales number to be short-lived and we would see some improvement next month, which will show that the U.S. economy is strengthening overall," said Lennon Sweeting, corporate FX dealer at U.S. Forex in San Francisco.
"I am still bullish on the dollar. Among the major currencies, the U.S. dollar has the most room to rally at the moment."
U.S. Treasury debt yields fell after the soft retail sales data, as traders bet on more support from the U.S. central bank.
"The knee-jerk reaction to the retail sales data was a disappointment" said Craig Dismuke, chief economic strategist at Vining Sparks in Memphis, Tennessee.
Selling pressure from this week's $67 billion in supply has been offset by a steady bid for safe-haven Treasuries on worries about conflicts in Iraq, eastern Ukraine and Gaza. Ten-year yields have not strayed far above last week's 14-month low of 2.349 percent.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note
OIL BOUNCES BACK, COPPER SLIPS
Copper, seen as a barometer of global growth, fell to a seven-week low below $6,874 per tonne (CMCU3), dragged down by soft data on China's property sector, which raised concerns about the outlook for the metal used in power and construction. [MET/L]
It was last down 1.15 percent at $6,885.15.
September Brent crude futures, which expire on Thursday, fell as low as $102.37, the weakest for a front-month price since July 1, 2013, before bouncing 1 percent higher on the day to $104.08 as turmoil in Iraq and Libya kept concerns about potential supply disruptions in focus. [O/R]
The outlook on prices, however, continues to be bearish.
OPEC output rose to a five-month high of 30.44 million barrels per day in July as increased production from Saudi Arabia and Libya more than offset declines in Iraq, Iran and Nigeria.
"Brent prices have been in a steady decline and I think the background of that is that the market is forming the view that any supply disruptions are not on the immediate horizon," said CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner.
U.S. crude (CLc1) was down 2 cents at $97.35.
Markets continued to keep an eye on Iraq, where an ever more isolated Nuri al-Maliki again protested his removal as Iraqi prime minister as his former sponsor in Iran publicly endorsed a successor, Haider al-Abadi, who many in Baghdad hope can halt the advance of Sunni jihadists.
(Additional reporting by Akane Otani, Richard Leong, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Anna Louie Sussman and Robert Gibbons; Editing by Dan Grebler)