International markets roundup

A roundup of trading on major world markets:

NEW YORK - Wall Street stocks have ended lower in volatile trade spurred by the Yemen crisis.

At the closing bell on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 17,678.43, down 40.11 points (0.23 per cent). The blue-chip index had fallen below 15,600 earlier in the session.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 4.78 (0.23 per cent) to 2,056.27, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 13.16 (0.27 per cent) at 4,863.36.

Oil prices rose sharply as a Saudi-led coalition bombed Huthi Shi'ite rebels in support of Yemen's embattled president. Iran condemned the intervention.

US stocks seemed headed for another rout in early trade after Wednesday's losses but clawed back into positive territory at mid-afternoon before finishing modestly in the red.

LONDON - European stock markets fell as the escalation of the crisis in Yemen and suspicions a Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps unnerved investors.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index ended down 1.37 per cent at 6,895.33 points, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 index slid 0.18 per cent to 11,843.68 points and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.29 per cent to 5,006.35 points.

The euro rose to a three-week high of $US1.1052, before pulling back to $US1.0921, down $US1.0973 late in New York on Wednesday.

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly wound back in line with a hefty sell-off on Wall Street after surprisingly weak US data.

The euro maintained its recent strength against the dollar and yen on Thursday, boosted by receding expectations of an early US rate hike and upbeat indicators out of the eurozone.

Oil prices also enjoyed support from concerns about unrest in the crude-rich Middle East following news Saudi Arabian jets had struck rebel positions in neighbouring Yemen.

Tokyo tumbled 1.39 per cent, or 275.08 points, to 19,471.12 after earlier this week touching a 15-year high, while Sydney sank 1.58 per cent, or 94.22 points, to close at 5,879.1 and Seoul fell 0.99 per cent, or 20.25 points, to 2,022.56.

Hong Kong lost 0.13 per cent, dropping 31.15 points to 24,497.08, but Shanghai gained 0.58 per cent, or 21.37 points, to 3,682.10, having fallen Wednesday for the first time in 11 sessions.

WELLINGTON - The NZX 50 Index fell 24.614 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 5833.168.

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