Global stocks gain on ECB stimulus hopes, U.S. economic data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Worldwide stock indexes rose modestly on Tuesday and European bond yields fell on expectations of more stimulus from the European Central Bank, while strong U.S. data on durable goods and consumer confidence underpinned U.S shares.

Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 closed above the 2,000 mark for the first time, while the Dow hit an intraday record. Speculation grew that the European Central Bank is preparing a program of large-scale asset purchases to weaken the euro and try to jump-start growth in the struggling euro zone.

Those expectations have bolstered European bond and stock markets since Friday, when ECB President Mario Draghi hinted at a policy shift in a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

"Draghi's readiness to do more is providing the necessary boost for equity indexes," said Mr Ashraf Laidi, chief global strategist at City Index. "Buying on the dips does remain the path of least resistance in the absence of any destabilising factor."

MSCI's all-country world index was last up 0.18 per cent at 431.44. In Europe, the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.75 per cent at 1,376.83.

The 10-year German bund yield was last at 0.943 percent, up from a session low of 0.932 per cent but down from 0.955 percent late on Monday.

On Wall Street, investors took heart from the data on U.S. durable goods orders and consumer confidence. The Conference Board, an industry group, said confidence rose in August to its highest level since October 2007, topping expectations.

The Commerce Department reported that U.S. durable goods orders jumped 22.6 per cent in July, the biggest gain on record, though the number was skewed by strong international demand for aircraft. Excluding transportation, orders fell 0.8 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 29.83 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 17,106.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.10 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 2,000.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 13.29 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 4,570.64.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 2/32 in price to yield 2.40 per cent. "It's tough for Treasuries to sell off here given what's going on in Europe," said Mr Gennadiy Goldberg, interest rate strategist at TD Securities in New York.

The euro was last down 0.15 per cent, at $1.3171, Despite slight gains earlier in the session, the currency remained at its lowest in nearly a year against the greenback.

Brent crude fell 15 cents to settle at $102.50 a barrel. U.S. crude rose 51 cents to settle at $93.86 per barrel.