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Signs of euro zone recovery support shares, Bunds flat
Clear signs the euro zone has crawled out of an 18-month long recession supported European shares near a 10-week peak on Wednesday and saw German 10-year yields hover near their highest level in almost two months.
The German economy grew by 0.7 percent in the second quarter, its largest expansion in over a year, while the French economy expanded by 0.5 percent, more than twice as fast as expected and exiting its own shallow recession.
The growth in Europe's two largest economies paves the way for a positive surprise when gross domestic product (GDP) data for the whole of 17-nation euro area is released at 0900 GMT (4:00 a.m. EDT).
"The euro zone has been hauled out of recession and Germany has done the lion's share of that," said Andreas Scheuerle, economist at Dekabank.
The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of top European shares, which has steadily gained over three weeks as signs of a recovery have mounted, was flat at around 1,236 points .FTEU3 in early trade, within sight of its 2013 peak of 1,258.09.
Prices for 10-year German government debt were also steady with the yield around 1.83 percent, its highest since late June when hints the U.S. Federal Reserve was ready to cut back on its bond-buying program rocked financial markets.
The euro was slightly firmer against the dollar at $1.3260 but off a high of $1.3316 hit on Tuesday, with the greenback buoyed by upbeat U.S. retail sales data that has sent U.S. Treasury yields sharply higher.
The dollar's index against a basket of currencies stood near one-week highs touched on Tuesday, while against Japan's currency it was little changed at 98.13 yen.
Yields on benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasuries held near 2.7 percent after rising to their highest in nearly two years on Tuesday as investors prepared for the Fed to start tapering its $85 billion a month of asset purchases.
Talk about the Fed's next step escalated on Tuesday when Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said it was too early to detail plans for a tapering, but did not rule out the possibility of it starting next month.
His suggestion it would neither be sudden or drastic boosted sentiment in U.S. stock markets that carried into Asian trade.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was flat, while Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock average .N225 closed at a one-week high. Hong Kong markets were closed on Wednesday due to a typhoon.
In Britain, traders were focused on the release of June unemployment data after the Bank of England explicitly linked the chances of tighter policy to a drop in the jobless rate earlier this month.
"With Bank of England policymakers focused on the new unemployment target, the jobs report is the single most important driver for the pound and for UK markets in general," said Ned Rumpeltin, head of G10 FX strategy at Standard Chartered.
Minutes of the August 1 policy meeting are also due and will be watched for clues on how much support new governor Mark Carney found for the new forward guidance plans.
Evidence of improving global growth helped copper gain 0.2 percent to $7,285.50 but worries about the Fed curbing its commodity-friendly stimulus saw gold slip to $1,320.51 per ounce.
Brent crude edged down towards $109 a barrel.
[Source: By Richard Hubbard, Reuters, London, 14Aug13]
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