International markets roundup

NEW YORK: The S&P 500 has hit a two-week high on the back of strong earnings, while a flurry of acquisitions indicated corporate America continues to see untapped value in the market.

Annualized third-quarter earnings from S&P 500 components are expected to have risen 1.1 per cent last quarter, following four quarters of contraction, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Microsoft, which handily beat expectations last week, rose 2 per cent and Apple, due to report on Tuesday, rose 0.7 per cent.

"Consensus is earnings are going to continue to improve in part due to favorable energy prices and to strong consumption patterns here in the US," said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel Nicolaus in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Wall Street signaled scepticism that regulators would allow AT&T to purchase Time Warner Inc for a planned $US85.4 billion.

Shares of both companies fell as analysts scrutinized the deal, with AT&T down 1.8 per cent at $36.81 and Time Warner Inc down 3.0 per cent at $86.82.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.43 per cent, to 18,223.03, the S&P 500 gained 0.47 per cent, to 2,151.33 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.00 per cent, to 5,309.83.

LONDON: Spain's IBEX index led gains in Europe on signs that 10 months of political deadlock could end. The impasse has paralysed government in one of the countries worst-hit by the eurozone's debt crisis.

Conservative leader Mariano Rajoy was on course to secure a second term in power for his People's Party after the Socialists agreed to abstain in a confidence vote this week.

"In the very short term, the formation of a government is good news for Spanish spreads," Rabobank analysts said in a morning note. "However, in the medium term Spain will still be left with a minority government that is likely to face an uphill struggle to pass any legislation."

The IBEX was up 1.27 percent, outstripping its German and French equivalents, which closed 0.47 per cent and 0.36 per cent higher, respectively.

Germany's DAX gained 0.47 per cent to 10,761.17, but London fell 0.49 per cent to 6,986.40.

TOKYO: Asian stocks eked out some minimal gains while China's yuan currency neared 6.80 per US dollar, levels not seen in six years and which Beijing intervened heavily to defend in January.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.2 per cent. Japan's Nikkei moved in a tight range and closed up 0.29 per cent at 17,234.42, while Shanghai outperformed, rising 1.21 per cent to 3,128.25.

The Hang Seng gained 0.98 per cent to 23,604.08.

"It feels to us like 'China' has taken a back seat in discussions amongst market participants. We are wary about this apparent complacency," Citi macro strategist Jeremy Hale said.

"We suspect part of the reason is renewed optimism regarding all things emerging markets. To a large degree China has ridden this wave and 'hard landing' fears have ebbed away. But on closer inspection we're not so sure much has changed."

WELLINGTON: New Zealand had a public holiday on Monday.


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