World stock markets muted as holidays near
HONG KONG: World stock markets traded in narrow ranges Wednesday as investment activity continued to wind down ahead of Christmas and New Year holidays.
News of a $6.3 billion banking deal sent Wall Street to new two-year highs the previous day and also gave Asian markets a boost but it wasn't sustained in Japan where the benchmark index closed lower.
"I think a holiday mood is there and I don't expect market turnover will increase a lot," said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.
In early European trade, France's CAC-40 slipped 0.1 percent to 3,921.95 and Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.3 percent to 5,937.40. Germany's DAX declined 0.1 percent to 7,073.13.
Wall Street was set to open slightly lower with Dow futures down by 8 points, or 0.1 percent, at 11,463. Broader S&P futures edged lower by 1.1, or 0.1 percent, to 1,249.60.
Chinese shares fell on profit-taking, with the bench- mark Shanghai Composite Index losing 0.9 percent to 2,877.90. The Shenzhen Composite Index for China's smaller, second market slipped 0.8 percent to 1,338.20.
"Most individual investors sold off shares to lock in profits by the year's end, though institutional investors began selectively buying blue chips, especially financial and property shares, for their earning outlook in 2011," said Xu Zhiyuan, a strategist at Capitaledge Investment & Management Co. in Shanghai.
Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average closed down 0.2 percent to close at 10,346.48 after being higher for most of the day.
Trading houses benefited from a report in the Nikkei financial daily saying Japanese trading companies plan to boost investments in Chinese startups. Mitsui & Co. rose 1.4 percent, and Mitsubishi Corp. added 1.1 percent.
Japanese financial markets will be closed Thursday for the emperor's birthday, a national holiday. -Afp