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September 20, 2017

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Europe stocks rise, Japan down on dour survey

LONDON/HONG KONG--European stocks opened higher Monday, hours before Greek officials were to resume negotiations with international lenders who have pledged financial help if the country makes the necessary budget cuts.

Athens needs the lenders to approve a proposed package of spending cuts and tax hikes to receive the next installment of emergency loans intended to keep Greece from defaulting on its massive debts.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1 percent to 5,801.13. Germany's DAX jumped 1.4 percent to 7,316.17 and France's CAC-40 added 1.3 percent to 3,398.18.

Futures augured gains on Wall Street. Dow Jones industrial futures gained 0.5 percent to 13,415 and S&P 500 futures added 0.4 percent to 1,439.80.

In Asia, markets in China, Hong Kong and South Korea were closed for public holidays. In Tokyo, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell after a closely watched survey showed confidence in the economy weakening.

The Bank of Japan's "tankan" confidence index was minus 3, a worsening from the previous quarter's minus 1. The index is a percentage of the companies with a positive outlook versus those who see unfavorable conditions ahead, so a minus number means there are more pessimistic companies than optimistic ones.

The Nikkei 225 index shed 0.8 percent to 8,796.51. Toyota Motor Corp. lost 1.7 percent and Nishimatsu Construction Co. slid 4.2 percent.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was marginally higher at 4,388.60, with losses in some sectors offset by solid gains among big banks and resource shares. Trading was light due to a public holiday in parts of the country.

Benchmarks in Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia fell. India rose.

Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia said that investors are still concerned about Spain's financial health. The Bank of Spain released an audit Friday showing that seven of the country's banks failed stress tests. Moody's, the credit rating agency, is also expected to weigh in on Spain's creditworthiness.

Commodity markets better reflected the prospect of slower global demand coming from the weaker economic data, with Brent crude falling below US$112 per barrel in early trade.

However, that comes after it closed the third quarter with its biggest three-month gain in 1-1/2 years.

Gold also drifted lower suffering not just from the weaker economic data but also a stronger U.S. dollar, which makes the precious metal less attractive to investors.

Spot gold was down 0.3 percent to US$1,766.10 an ounce although it to was coming off a strong last quarter when it rose nearly 11 percent, its biggest quarterly rise since the second quarter of 2010.

Wellington closed off 0.11 percent, or 4.12 points, to 3,830.03.

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