Summary of business headlines: Google unveils dividend/stock split plan as earnings beat forecasts; Wall Street powers ahead for a second day; IMF chief warns Europe is still a risk.
USA-USCLOSE - Wall Street put together its best two-day rally of the year, with investor confidence bolstered by falling bond yields for troubled euro zone countries and speculation of strong economic growth in China.
On the U.S. front: Google shocked Wall Street by announcing plans for a stock dividend. The value of the dividend amounts to an effective 2-for-1 stock split, according to the company's calculations. Speculation about what it would do with its cash had been steadily rising after Apple announced a dividend. As for quarterly results: revenues were pretty much in line with forecasts, earnings were better than expected.
The latest jobs figures added to concerns the recent labor market recovery may be short-lived. Weekly jobless claims unexpectedly jumped to their highest since January. But some economists question the data given the Easter holiday.
The U.S. trade gap with the rest of the world showed the biggest month-on-month shrinkage in almost two years.
And in another data point: inflationary pressures on the producer level remain tame.
All-in-all the economic figures don't suggest the U.S. is slipping back towards recession, but Europe remains a concern, says International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
CHRISTINE LAGARDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND SAYING:
"As Nelson Mandela once said, the secret is that when you pass one hill, you suddenly realize that there are more hills to climb. And that's exactly where we are - more hills to climb. Clearly, the risk that looms largest on the horizon is that sovereign and financial stresses return with renewed force in Europe."
Checking on Wall Street, stocks rallied over one percent with gains spread evenly across the board.
In Europe: there was a rally of at least one percent for the major bourses.
Conway Gittens, Reuters