Asian stock markets mixed after weak cue from Wall Street, trade subdued amid holidays

Monday, September 20, 2010

Asian markets subdued amid week of holidays

BANGKOK — Asian stock markets mostly posted subdued gains Monday amid a week punctuated by holidays in Japan and other major regional markets. European shares made moderate gains in early trading.

The indifferent session in Asia came after Wall Street gave up most of its advance on Friday to close slightly higher. The initial rise was triggered by better-than-expected earnings from technology leaders Oracle Corp. and Research in Motion Ltd. but a lower oil price and a decline in a measure of consumer confidence kept a lid on buying.

This week investors are looking to a string of U.S. housing reports as the latest gauge of the strength of recovery in the world’s No. 1 economy and a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting on Tuesday. The Fed is expected to leave its key interest rate unchanged at its current super-low level and some hope for word on whether the central bank will resume buying Treasurys. Such a step could stimulate the economy by lowering longer-term interest rates.

Global markets have stabilized since late August as jitters about the U.S. falling back into recession faded. Most analysts now think the U.S. economy will continue to grow but probably not fast enough to make a significant dent in high unemployment anytime soon.

In early European trade, France’s CAC-40 rose 0.8 percent to 3,751.24, Germany’s DAX advanced 0.5 percent to 6,241.01 and Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.9 percent to 5,558.03. Wall Street was set to open higher with Dow futures up 29 points, or 0.3 percent, at 10,567.00 and S&P futures ahead by 3.5, or 0.3 percent, to 1,123.20.

In Asian trading, the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.4 percent to 2,588.71 while South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3 percent to 1,832.63. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added less than 0.1 percent to 21,977.34.

Japan’s market was closed for a public holiday. It is closed for another holiday Thursday while markets in mainland China are closed Wednesday through Friday. Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines also have closures during the week.

Elsewhere in Asia, India’s Sensex climbed 1.2 percent to 19,832.09 and Taiwan’s index added 0.4 percent to 8,186.96. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.2 percent to 4,631.30.

In the U.S. on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.02, or 0.1 percent, to close at 10,607.85. The Dow is up 5.9 percent in the month to date, defying skeptics who predicted a decline in September, which is historically a weak one for stocks. It has risen in seven of the past eight days.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index inched up 0.93, or 0.1 percent, to 1,125.59, and the Nasdaq composite rose 12.36, or 0.5 percent, to 2,315.61.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was up 8 cents at $73.74 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 91 cents to settle at $73.66 on Friday.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 85.63 yen from 85.84 yen in New York late Friday. The euro rose to $1.3104 from $1.3054.

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