NEW YORK The U.S. dollar dropped to its lowest level in nearly eight months on Monday, lifting metals prices and commodity sector stocks, and U.S. crude reversed losses to settle above $40 a barrel.
Safe-haven gold hit a three-week high while the yen hit its highest against the dollar in almost a year and a half, as investors remained anxious about the strength of the global economy. The yen's strength pushed Tokyo to warn it could again intervene against its currency's rally.
On Wall Street stocks edged up, led by miners and banks ahead of results from Alcoa (AA.N), seen as the unofficial start to quarterly reporting season.
Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to have fallen 7.7 percent in the first quarter from a year ago. Excluding the energy sector, reeling from the slide in crude prices since mid 2014, the S&P earnings decline estimate improves to minus 2.6 percent according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data.
"A lot of companies in the U.S. really suffered from a strong dollar and even if earnings and global growth are not as strong, there is a feeling that the weaker dollar can bolster earnings reports at least a little," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 79.64 points, or 0.45 percent, to 17,656.6, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 5.55 points, or 0.27 percent, to 2,053.15 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 15.51 points, or 0.32 percent, to 4,866.20.
Europe's FTSEuroFirst 300 index of leading shares .FTEU3 ended up 0.3 percent, helped by miners and a rally in Italian bank shares. European stocks have fallen for the last four weeks, and another down week would mark their worst run since mid-2013.
MSCI's gauge of shares across the globe .MIWD00000PUS rose 0.35 percent and Nikkei futures NKc1 edged up 0.1 percent.
U.S. President Barack Obama was scheduled to meet Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at 3:00 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) to discuss the economy and Wall Street reform. Any news on the path of interest rates or requirements for the largest banks would likely trigger moves in financial markets.
YEN IN FOCUS
The greenback's slide against the yen prompted a warning from Japan's top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who said recent currency moves were one-sided and speculative and that the government would take steps as needed.
"While the comments sent the yen lower overnight, the overall nervousness in global markets continues to keep the Japanese currency's safe-haven allure in high demand," said Omer Esiner, chief market strategist at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.
The greenback was last down less than 0.1 percent against the yen at 107.94 yen JPY= from a low of 107.61, the strongest reading for the yen since late October 2014.
The euro EUR= was little changed on the day against the greenback at $1.1407, still not far from a six-month high touched last week.
The dollar index .DXY hit its lowest level since late August.
The weaker dollar helped lift spot gold to its highest point in three weeks. Gold XAU= rose to $1,258.70 an ounce, its highest since March 22. It was last up about 1.2 percent at $1,255.50.
Peru's select stock index .SPBLPGPT rose 8.4 percent, on track for its biggest gain since late 2008, while the sol PEN=PE currency strengthened 2.6 percent. Keiko Fujimori, the conservative daughter of a jailed former president, was heading towards a tight runoff against investor favourite Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
In bond markets, the benchmark Treasury 10-year note US10YT=RR was little changed, down 2/32 in price to yield 1.7289 percent from 1.722 percent late on Friday.
Brent crude prices rose to a four-month high as a rally in wider commodities markets encouraged buying ahead of a meeting of oil producers in Doha next Sunday, aimed at freezing current output levels.
Brent crude futures LCOc1, the global benchmark, were up 2.2 percent at $42.85 a barrel, having touched a session high of $43.06, the highest level since Dec. 7. U.S. crude futures CLc1 rose 1.7 percent to $40.40 a barrel. Both Brent and U.S. crude rose more than 6 percent on Friday.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Chizu Nomiyama)
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