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International markets roundup

NEW YORK: US stocks have closed as higher oil prices buoyed the energy sector, but another slump in Facebook Inc shares curbed gains.

Oil prices rose more than two per cent to touch a three-week high, driven by tensions in the Middle East and the possibility of further declines in Venezuelan crude output.

Those gains helped the S&P energy index up 0.95 per cent, making it easily the best performing of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors.

Facebook Inc shares were down 4.2 per cent. The social media company said on Tuesday it faced questions from the US Federal Trade Commission about how its users' personal data was mined by a political consultancy hired by President Donald Trump's campaign.

The stock has fallen about 12 per cent over the past two session, on track for its biggest two-day decline since July 2012 in a drop that has weighed heavily on equities.

US and European lawmakers have demanded an explanation of how the consultancy gained access to the data and why Facebook failed to inform its users, raising broader industry questions about consumer privacy and whether heavier regulation is on the horizon.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 116.36 points, or 0.47 per cent higher, at 24,727.27, the S&P 500 gained 4.02 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 2,716.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 20.06 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 7,364.30.

Facebook was the biggest drag on both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 while the Dow, which does not include the social media company, had the largest gain of the three major Wall Street indexes.

Financial stocks edged up 0.27 per cent as investors awaited a near-certain interest rate hike at the end of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting on Wednesday (Thursday morning AEDT).

Market participants largely expect a total of three rate hikes this year, although some have not written off the possibility the Fed will hike four times.

LONDON: Britain's FTSE 100 index gained on Tuesday, with banks leading the way after data showed a small slowdown in inflation, while Fenner shares surged after a takeover offer from tyre maker Michelin.

In the second approach for a UK mid-cap firm in as many days, Fenner jumped 24 per cent to the top of the FTSE 250 after France's Michelin made a 1.2 billion-pound ($A2.2 billion) bid for the engineering company.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.3 per cent at the close, with house builders Taylor Wimpey, Berkeley Group and Persimmon among the biggest gainers. Bellway jumped 3.5 per cent.

On the mainland, Germany's DAX 30 index was up 0.74 per cent, and the French stockmarket was up 0.57 per cent.

TOKYO: Asian shares were on the defensive on Tuesday after investors took profits in high-flying US technology shares on fears of stiffer regulation, as Facebook came under fire following reports it allowed improper access to user data.

The retreat came as investors braced for new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's first policy meeting starting later in the day and amid concerns that US President Donald Trump could impose additional punitive trade measures against China.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were last up 0.2 per cent after initially dropping as much as 0.5 per cent. Japan's Nikkei fell 0.5 per cent.

WELLINGTON: The S&P/NZX 50 index on Tuesday fell 0.06 per cent, to 8,487.15.