Asian shares mixed after Wall Street gains
SHANGHAI: World stock markets were mostly higher Thursday, tracking the overnight rally on Wall Street spurred by news that the U.S. economy fared better than expected in the third quarter.
Trading was light in Asia ahead of Christmas holidays and with Japanese financial markets closed for the emperor's birthday.
"Trading is directionless since there are not very many incentives. Turnover is very quiet," said Samuel Chua, an analyst at KGI Securities in Hong Kong. "People are still concerned about possible tightening of monetary policy," he said.
In early European trade, France's CAC-40 edged 0.04 percent lower to 3,918.04, but Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.2 percent to 5,992.96 and Germany's DAX added 0.06 percent to 7,072.17.
Wall Street was set to extend Wednesday's gains, with Dow futures up by 7 points at 11,502.00. Broader S&P futures gained 0.2 points to 1,254.70.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.6 percent to 22,902.97, as worries over a possible interest rate hike in China cast a pall on the upbeat overseas news.
But most regional markets mirrored Wall Street's surge after the Commerce Department reported that U.S. gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 2.6 percent between July and September, up from its earlier estimate of 2.5 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent to 4,888.20 as natural resource companies advanced.
New Zealand shares rose, adding 0.3 percent to 3,364.14 despite data showing that the country's economy contracted in the third quarter. Gross domestic product unexpectedly declined 0.2 percent from the previous quarter.
Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines also gained.
Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi opened higher but fell back later in the morning, losing 0.3 percent by the close, at 2,037.50. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.8 percent to 2,855.20.
"Well, just as it happens every yearend, most investors feel uncertain about future economic policies, so they would rather wait and see. Also, trading was affected by rumors of an interest rate hike," said Liu Kan, an analyst at Guoyuan Securities in Shanghai.
In New York Wednesday, major stock indexes edged up to two-year highs, with the Dow Jones industrial average gaining 26.33 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 11,559.49. The broader S&P 500 index rose 4.24, or 0.3 percent, to 1,258.84. Both indexes closed at their highest levels since July 2008.
The Nasdaq composite index gained 3.87, or 0.2 percent, to 2,671.48. It was the highest close for the Nasdaq since Dec. 28, 2007.
In currencies, the dollar fell to 82.92 yen from 83.55 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.3109 from $1.3107.
Benchmark oil for February delivery rose 22 cents to 90.70 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 66 cents to settle at $90.48 a barrel on Wednesday as the U.S. government reported a drop in the nation's crude stockpiles. -Ap
AMRITSAR: Indian men dressed as Santa Claus distribute free Onions on the roadside in Amritsar on December 23, 2010. The Indian government, facing mounting public anger over soaring onion costs, scrapped tax on imports of the vegetable to try to rein in prices of the staple food. -Afp