By David Randall
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock markets in Europe and the U.S. advanced on Thursday as reassuring economic data from Germany and a report that its big carmakers could be spared from U.S. tariffs offset another gloomy session for Asia.
Shares of Mercedes-maker Daimler, BMW, Porsche <PSHG_P.DE> and Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> surged as much as 5 percent after reports of a U.S. offer to suspend tariff threats on EU-made cars if the bloc lifts duties on U.S. vehicles.
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That fueled wider gains, with the European auto sector enjoying its best day in more than two years. The mood was also helped by a stronger-than-expected jump in German industrial orders after four months of declines.
"With these stories coming out (about car tariffs), you have a sector which has been very oversold meeting some potential good news on the trade war front," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch European equity strategist James Barty.
"This is going to be the dominant issue of the summer. Are we heading for a full-blown trade war? In which case, it is very bad news for risk assets; or do we walk away from it, in which case, as we have seen today, markets are likely to rebound quite sharply."
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 74.82 points, or 0.31 percent, to 24,249.64, the S&P 500 gained 8.18 points, or 0.30 percent, to 2,721.4 and the Nasdaq Composite added 25.23 points, or 0.34 percent, to 7,527.90.
MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.23 percent.
The euro briefly topped $1.17 and bond yields rose after the brighter German data and a report that the ECB thinks markets are now too cautious on when it will raise euro zone interest rates next year.
Later in the day, traders will get the minutes from last month's U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting, when it raised U.S. rates for a second time this year.
"The euro is getting a bit of a lift on the German data though the trade concerns will continue to dominate markets with the Fed minutes being the key data point," said Kenneth Broux, a currency strategist at Societe Generale in London.
Persisting concerns over U.S. President Donald Trump's trade tariff plans extended a recent slide in Asian equity markets overnight, in particular Chinese shares which are now deep into "bear" market territory.
On Friday, U.S. tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports will take effect. Beijing promised to retaliate in kind, though it said it would "absolutely not" fire the first shot in a trade war.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which has dropped every day except three since mid-June, ended down 0.25 percent.
In commodities, Brent oil futures U.S. crude rose 0.03 percent to $74.16 per barrel and Brent was last at $78.38, up 0.18 percent, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump sent a tweet demanding that OPEC reduce prices for crude.
Brent had risen on Wednesday on a threat from an Iranian commander to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring states if Washington continued to press all countries to stop buying Iranian oil, and a drop in U.S. crude inventories.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)