World stocks mostly higher on US optimism
HONG KONG – World stocks mostly rose Monday on optimism about the U.S. economy, hints from China about further stimulus and hopes for greater stability in Ukraine after its elections.
Trading volumes were low, however, as U.S. and British markets were closed for holidays.
Investor sentiment was boosted after the Standard & Poor’s 500 on Friday finished above the 1,900 level for the first time. The gains came after the Commerce Department on Friday reported that new home sales rose 6.4 percent in April after falling in the previous two months. Demand for new homes has been one of the last missing pieces as the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, recovers from the global financial crisis.
Meanwhile, remarks by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that suggested Beijing is preparing further mini-stimulus measures to support the economy gave a lift to Chinese shares.
Li said appropriate policy tools and timely fine tuning are being prepared as the world’s second biggest economy continues to face “relatively big” downward pressure, the state-run China Daily newspaper said Saturday, citing a speech Li gave on Thursday.
“There seems to be a growing view among Western strategists that while Chinese authorities will keep monetary policy steady, they are starting to look at fairly targeted support for the economy,” said Chris Weston, chief strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 1.3 percent to close at 9,892.82 and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.8 percent to 4,526.93.
Investors were cheered by the fact that the result of the national election in Ukraine was accepted by both western powers and Russia. The president-elect said he would engage in talks with Moscow and seek to ease the crisis, though new attacks were made on pro-Russian militants in the eastern part of the country.
Meanwhile, results from the European Parliament elections showed parties that are against the European Union and favor stronger national borders – on issues from immigration to business – made huge gains. Experts say that while their advance will not affect the European Parliament significantly, as the disparate parties will have trouble creating alliances, their strong showing could push some governments to reassess their policies.
Among the notable exceptions was Italy, where a strong vote for the ruling party was seen to strengthen its mandate to reform the economy. Italy’s stock market jumped 3.6 percent.
Earlier, in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 benchmark rose 1 percent to close at 14,602.52 as the dollar strengthened against the yen, rising briefly above 102 yen in early trading before easing to 101.93.
A weaker yen means the electronics, cars and other goods made by Japan’s exporting giants such as Nikon, Sony and Honda are cheaper for overseas buyers.
The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to close at 2,041.48 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended flat 22,963.18. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.3 percent to 2,010.35 while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.4 percent to 5,512.80.
The euro rose to $1.3653 from $1.3630.
In energy markets, oil prices rose. Benchmark crude for July delivery was up 44 cents to $104.18 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.