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International markets roundup

NEW YORK - The Dow Jones Industrial Average breached the 23,000-mark for the first time on Tuesday, driven by strong earnings from UnitedHealth and Johnson & Johnson, but the S&P 500 was flat.

The blue-chip index has surpassed four similar 1,000-point milestones this year, indicating investor faith in the bull-run despite lofty stock valuations. For a factbox, see

But the Dow was unable to hold the level and has been trading below 23,000 for much of the afternoon.

"My view is it may take several days or a couple of weeks before it can sustain a level above 23,000," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York.

"Right now, we're contending with earnings season, and the fact that the market has run up, leading up to the earnings season."

The S&P 500 was flat, with financials the biggest drag. Goldman Sachs shares dipped despite reporting a profit beat and smaller-than-expected trading revenue fall.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 40.48 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 22,997.44, after briefly hitting the 23,000 mark earlier.

The S&P 500 gained 1.72 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 2,559.36 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.35 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 6,623.66.

LONDON - European shares dipped on Tuesday, falling from a four-month peak as weakness among commodities stocks outweighed gains spurred by results from companies including food group Danone and education firm Pearson.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended the session 0.3 per cent lower, weighed down by a dip in basic resources and energy shares, while euro zone blue chips were flat.

UK's FTSE ended 0.14 per cent lower following comments by Bank of England policymakers which were taken as dovish by market participants, while Spain's IBEX regained some ground with a 0.4 per cent gain.

Results drove individual share price moves, with Danone hitting a fresh record high after the world's largest yoghurt maker posted a better-than-expected 4.7 per cent rise in underlying third-quarter sales, helped by a strong recovery in demand for infant milk formula and water products in China.

HONG KONG - Asian stocks were mostly higher on Tuesday as China prepared to open a key political meeting.

The Shanghai Composite Index was down 6.43 points at 3,372.04 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.38 per cent to 21,336.12. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.2 per cent to 28,697.49.

In China, Ihe ruling Communist Party opened a twice-a-decade congress on Wednesday to appoint President Xi Jinping to a second five-year term as leader.

Investors are watching the party's personnel reshuffle for signs of possible policy directions. After spending his first term firming up his grip on power, analysts expect Xi to shift focus to economic policy, with an emphasis on tighter party control of state companies that dominate industries including banking, energy and telecoms.

WELLINGTON - .New Zealand shares edged higher, with the S&P/NZX 50 index up 21.32 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 8112.05.