* Shares, oil, gold all gain on ECB, euro zone hopes
* Standard Chartered stock falls sharply on Iran accusation
* Spanish and Italian bond yields ease
LONDON, Aug 7 (Reuters) - World shares held near three-month
highs and the euro clung to gains above $1.24 on Tuesday after
investors drew encouragement from signs that Europe is edging
towards resolving its debt crisis even as the economic impact
Global markets have enjoyed a strong run this week after the
European Central Bank promised to buy bonds to ease the pressure
on Spain and Italy, albeit under strict conditions that have yet
to be fully worked out.
U.S. stocks were poised to open higher [.N}, while gold
inched up towards $1,615 an ounce and Brent crude futures
shot past $110 a barrel partly due to worries about supply.
However, a sharp drop in shares of Standard Chartered Plc
after New York's bank regulator threatened to tear up
its state banking licence helped to hold back gains in European
"Hopes of action in Europe are certainly still persistent,"
said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
"There is still an element of relief coming through from the
U.S. employment figures," he added, referring to Friday's
better-than-expected jobs data.
The cautious hopes that Europe's three-year crisis was
edging towards a solution lifted the MSCI world equity index
0.2 percent to 321.14 points, near its highs of
May this year.
Share markets have enjoyed renewed demand from investors
over the past three months as high-rated government bond returns
have fallen sharply due to demand from investors seeking safety
from the troubles in Europe, increasing the relative
attractiveness of blue-chip stocks.
"Both growth and income investors are now hunting down the 4
percent dividend yields you can get on many global blue chips,"
said Tom Elliott, global strategist at JP Morgan Asset
European shares had a choppier day after it emerged that the
powerhouse German economy had taken a bigger hit than expected
in June due to weakness across the euro zone.
German industrial orders fell 1.7 percent on the month,
after contracts from the euro zone fell by 4.9 percent.
Data also showed Italy's recession extending into a fourth
consecutive quarter as GDP fell 2.5 percent year-on-year in the
three months to the end of June. "We believe Italy faces another
two quarters of negative GDP growth this year," said BNP Paribas
economist Catherine Colebrook. "There is little sign as yet of
light at the end of the tunnel."
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European
companies managed a slight gain of 0.2 percent to 1,088.16
points by midday in Europe, while the Euro STOXX 50,
the index of blue chip euro zone stocks, was up 1.1 percent.
European banking shares, which had rallied more than
12 percent over the previous nine days, were also weighing on
the broader index as more allegations hit the sector.
Standard Chartered led the declines, falling by over 23
percent and losing $16 billion of market capitalisation, after
New York's top bank regulator threatened to remove its state
banking licence, saying the British-based lender hid $250
billion in transactions tied to Iran.
"The trust issues surrounding the banking sector just don't
seem to be going away," said Brenda Kelly, market analyst at CMC
The euro was still basking in the glow of ECB President
Mario Draghi's promise that the central bank was "ready to do
whatever it takes to preserve the euro", and the expectations it
would intervene to help Spain and Italy.
The euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.2415, nearing the
one-month high of $1.2444 touched on Monday which was its
strongest level since early July.
"We are expecting the euro to rise to $1.26 in a month's
time and $1.30 in three months, partly due to renewed optimism
about the euro zone and partly because of the dollar's
weakness," said Michael Sneyd, FX strategist at BNP Paribas.
In the debt market the optimism engendered by the ECB was
easing pressure in the Spanish and Italian bonds but, after
strong gains since Draghi's comments last Thursday, these were
beginning to taper off.
Spain's 10-year bond yields were 1.5 basis
points lower at 6.78 percent, with the Italian equivalent
9 basis points lower at 5.91 percent.
"People are starting to reprice the Italian and Spanish risk
... It's not over, and I don't expect the process to stop until
we have an accident," said Francois Duhen, strategist at CM-CIC
However, investors remain cautious about the next steps, as
ECB action can be triggered only when a country decides its
finances are in such bad shape that it needs a bailout, which
could arouse new fears about the whole region.
The ECB plans to resume bond buying - possibly as soon as
September - which will target shorter dated sovereign debt and
aim to complement the combined firepower of the region's two
bailout funds while keeping the pressure on governments to
But the euro zone's new permanent bailout fund has yet to be
formally approved by paymaster Germany and rules governing any
ECB bond buying still have to be agreed by internal committees
at the central bank.
Oil prices were enjoying good gains on the ECB hopes along
with supply worries stemming from North Sea maintenance, Middle
East tensions and the start of hurricane season in the Gulf of
Mexico, which could disrupt oil and gas production.
Brent crude for September delivery rose 79 cents to
$110.34 a barrel, climbing above $110 a barrel for the first
time since mid May. U.S. crude firmed by 33 cents to
Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,612.80 an ounce,
but U.S. gold futures for August delivery were down 70
cents an ounce at $1,615.50.