European stock markets slip; Tokyo rises

December 31, 2013 - 4:19:40 am

Employees and traders celebrate the closing of this year’s last trading day at the Korea Exchange in Seoul yesterday. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 2,011.34.


LONDON: European stock markets slid yesterday, with many investors away for an extended festive break, but Frankfurt hit a new record peak on optimism over the German economic outlook, dealers said.

At close, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index ended down 0.29 percent at 6,731.27 points and the CAC 40 in Paris dipped 0.05 percent to 4,275.71 points.

And on its final trading day of 2013, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 dropped 0.39 percent to a close of 9,552.16 points, after hitting a new historic high at 9,594.35 points. With the closing level, Frankfurt will have risen an astonishing 25.5 percent in a year marked by a series of new record highs, having started the year at 7,612.39 points.

The British and French markets will remain open today for a half-day, before a holiday shutdown across Europe tomorrow for New Year’s Day.

“Trading volumes are expected to remain low for most of this week, if not all of it, with another bank holiday coming on Wednesday,” said analyst Craig Erlam at traders Alpari.

Despite subdued deals, all three main European equity markets have scored impressive gains in 2013, propelled by growing confidence over the global economy and low interest rates, dealers said.

This year, Frankfurt has soared by almost 26 percent, while Paris has gained 17 percent and London 14 percent, aided also by signs that the US economy — the world’s biggest — was on the road to recovery.

US stocks moved mostly lower in midday trade as investors looked ahead to a smattering of economic reports in the shortened week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.04 percent to 16,485.32. The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.06 percent to 1,840.23, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.08 percent to 4,153.18.

Asian equities mostly rose, with Tokyo cheered by the yen’s fall to a five-year low against the dollar, which boosts exporters. Weaker currencies make a nation’s goods cheaper overseas, which tends to stimulate demand.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.69 percent to finish at 16,291.31 points on its final trading day of the year. The benchmark index has soared by nearly 57 percent over the past 12 months to register the best annual performance since 1972. Elsewhere, Hong Kong ended flat and Shanghai slipped 0.18 percent.

Foreign investors piled into Japanese stocks in 2013 as the government and central bank unveiled measures aimed at stoking the world’s third-largest economy that sent the yen plummeting against the dollar.

In Asia, the dollar hit 105.41 yen — its highest since October 2008. It later stood at 105.27 yen in London trade. The European single currency rose to $1.3816 from $1.3743 late in New York on Friday. The euro rose to 83.62 pence, while the British pound gained to $1.6521.

Employees and traders celebrate the closing of this year’s last trading day at the Korea Exchange, Seoul, 30 December 2013. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) closed at 2,011.34.

Sterling had soared on Friday to $1.6578 — which was the highest level since mid-August 2011.

The pound had rallied late last week after research group the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicted that the British economy would surpass France and Germany to become Europe’s biggest economy by 2030.

Gold slid to $1,204.50 an ounce on the London Bullion Market on Monday, from $1,214.50 on Friday.


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