New Zealand Markets open in 9 hrs 52 mins

International markets roundup

NEW YORK: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has raced past the 26,000 mark for the first time as fourth-quarter earnings season got off to a strong start following upbeat results from UnitedHealth and Citigroup.

The blue-chip index, however, eased from its peak as a pullback in oil prices weighed on energy stocks.

UnitedHealth rose 2.5 per cent after the largest US health insurer reported results that beat estimates and raised its 2018 earnings outlook.

Citigroup Inc rose 1.13 per cent after the lender reported a profit that topped expectations as strength in consumer businesses made up for lower revenue from bond and currency trading.

Hopes of strong earnings, supported by a steep cut in corporate taxes, and solid global economic growth have bolstered Wall Street's optimism in the start to 2018.

In late afternoon trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost momentum and was down 0.11 per cent at 25,775.87. The S&P500 was down 0.31 per cent at 2,777.67, while the Nasdaq had fallen 0.44 per cent to 7,229.00.

LONDON: European shares ended little changed on Tuesday as losses among commodity stocks more than offset initial gains due to a series of well-received trading updates.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended flat, while euro zone stocks added 0.3 per cent as the euro gave up some of its strength against the US dollar.

Frankfurt's DAX rose 0.35 per cent to 13,246.33.

Fashion house Hugo Boss was among the biggest gainers in Europe, up 3.7 per cent, after it reported a rebound in growth at its own stores, a jump in online sales and a recovery in the United States.

Provident financial however fell 12.6 per cent after it said it expected to report a loss of about 120 million pounds ($A207.9 million) at its consumer credit division - the upper end of its guidance.

Oil and mining companies dragged Britain's FTSE 100 index to a negative close on Tuesday, tracking energy and metals prices lower, after gaining earlier in the session on a fall in sterling.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index ended down 0.17 per cent at 7,755.93 points, retreating further from a record set last week and slightly underperforming the broader European market.

British inflation dipped slightly after six months of gains, data showed earlier, suggesting the effects on consumer prices of the pound's slide after the 2016 Brexit vote may be starting to fade.

Economists said it was too early to predict a sustained slowing of price growth. But sterling fell following the data release, boosting the FTSE 100 into positive territory.

Interest rate-sensitive banks propped up the FTSE, but the downward pressure from oil and mining shares grew through the rest of the session, pulling the index into the red.

TOKYO: Asia's big bourses kept world shares on their record-breaking run on Tuesday, although a steadier US dollar halted the sizzling start to the year for the euro, yen and yuan and sent metals markets down sharply.

MSCI's all-country world index notched its third consecutive all-time high as growing confidence about the global economy pushed Japan's heavyweight Nikkei to its best level since 1991 during a lively Asian session.

MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.54 per cent, while Tokyo's Nikkei rose 1.0 per cent to 23,951.81.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index rose to a record closing high, led by index heavyweight Tencent Holdings and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

The Hang Seng index gained 1.81 per cent to 31,904.75. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 2.54 per cent to 12,787.28.

The top gainer on Hang Seng was Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd up 5.43 per cent, while the biggest loser was AAC Technologies Holdings Inc which was down 3.66 per cent.

China's main Shanghai Composite index lifted 0.77 per cent to 3,436.33 while its blue-chip CSI300 index ended up 0.79 per cent to 4,258.47.

WELLINGTON: The S&P/NZX50 Index gained 0.5 per cent to 8250.54.