LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks edged up from this month’s 11-month low on Thursday while gold fell sharply as investors took an optimistic view of how strongly the Federal Reserve will commit to supporting the economy at a gathering this week.
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 program, to revive a sputtering U.S. economy.
While many doubt Bernanke will immediately commit to conducting the third round of quantitative easing, or QE3, investors generally expect him to stress that the central bank stands ready to act if necessary.
“Judging by the recent behavior of markets, they are expecting either a stimulus package to be announced or Bernanke to elaborate on what weapons remain in his arsenal,” Ben Potter, strategist at IG Markets, said.
“Either way, we think the market is setting itself up for disappointment as we think it is highly unlikely a QE3 package will be unveiled. It could be a classic case of ‘buy the rumor, sell the fact’.”
MSCI world equity index rose 0.4 percent. The benchmark index is on track to post its first weekly gain in five weeks.
European stocks added 0.8 percent while emerging stocks gained 0.2 percent.
Focus will be on technology shares after the resignation of Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs. Shares of Apple tumbled as much as 7 percent in after-hours trade after Jobs resigned as chief executive of the world’s most valuable technology company.
Apple shares traded in Frankfurt were down 5.6 percent.
London Brent oil rose 0.8 percent to $110.90.
Bund futures fell 37 ticks.
The dollar fell 0.1 percent against a basket of major currencies. Any round of 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 0.2 percent to $1.4445.
Gold extended its sharp decline, after a wave of profit-taking triggered the biggest daily drop in futures since 1980.
Spot gold slipped to $1,732 an ounce, taking losses to some $180 since it hit a record high of $1,911.46 earlier in the week.
The fall came after COMEX futures for the precious metal fell over $100 on Wednesday, the biggest one-day drop since 1980. Gold faced renewed pressure on Thursday 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 have jumped $400 since July as worries about a global recession sent investors scrambling for the safe-haven asset. The intensity of the move prompted some analysts to call for gold investors to take money off the table.
Editing by Patrick Graham