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Markets await earnings, last presidential debate

LONDON/HONG KONG--Financial markets have started the new week off solidly ahead of another round of U.S. corporate earnings and the final debate in what appears to be a tight U.S. presidential election.

With a dearth of economic data this week and with no major scheduled events relating to Europe's debt crisis, investors will likely focus on developments in the U.S. After last week's disappointing earnings updates from the likes of Google and Microsoft, the focus will likely remain on the tech sector. Updates from Yahoo and Texas Instruments later Monday will be closely monitored in a week that will also feature Apple's earnings.

The battle for the White House is also beginning to feature in financial markets, not least because the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney appears to be extremely close.

“The final Presidential debate tonight may well add further momentum, but ahead of this and those tech sector numbers, the mood is likely to be somewhat subdued,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market strategist at GFT Markets.

In Europe, Germany's DAX was flat at 7,379 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.2 percent to 3,512. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.1 percent higher at 5,903.

Britains' BP was in the spotlight after it confirmed it was in discussions to sell its stake in the TNK-BP joint venture to Russian energy giant Rosneft. The news failed to do much for the stock, which was trading flat.

Wall Street was poised for a solid opening after Friday's reverse, with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.4 percent. How they actually open could well hinge on those earnings updates.

Asian shares were mixed Monday as lingering hopes for the global economy were offset by profit-taking after last week's healthy gains, while heavy losses on Wall Street added to selling pressure.

Tokyo ended 0.09 percent higher as late bargain-hunting wiped out the morning session's losses sparked by Wall Street's sharp fall and poor September trade figures. The Nikkei added 8.03 points to 9,010.71.

Hong Kong added 0.68 percent, or 145.79 points, to 21,697.55 — a 14-month high — boosted by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority's intervention in currency markets on Friday to lessen the local dollar's rise against the greenback.

Investors said the move — the first since December 2009 — showed confidence in Hong Kong's as an investment destination.

Shanghai rose 0.21 percent, or 4.46 points, to 2,132.76

But Sydney closed down 0.66 percent, or 30.1 points, at 4,541.0, while Seoul was 0.12 percent, or 2.25 points, off at 1,941.59.

Gold was at US$1,724.50 at 1050 GMT compared with US$1,732.02 late Friday.

In other markets:

— Manila closed 0.14 percent lower, shedding 7.57 points to 5,424.79.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. slipped 0.07 percent to 2,668 pesos and SM Investments dropped 0.48 percent to 820 pesos.

— Wellington was closed for a public holiday.

— Kuala Lumpur fell 4.4 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 1661.95.

AirAsia lost 1.3 percent to 3.12 ringgit, YTL Power eased 1.2 percent to 1.61 and UEM Land rose 2.2 percent to 1.87.

— Singapore declined 0.11 percent or 3.25 points to 3,045.67.

United Overseas Bank was up 0.27 percent to SG$18.60 while Keppel Corp. sank 1.33 percent to SG$11.14.

— Bangkok ended up 0.21 percent or 2.71 points at 1,310.42.

Telecoms company Advanced Info Service lost 0.47 percent to 212 baht, while Bangkok Bank fell 2.39 percent to 184 baht.

— Jakarta closed up 0.23 percent, or 10.12 points, at 4,341.38.

Mobile phone provider Indosat rose 2.48 percent to 6,200 rupiah and cement firm Indocement Tunggal Perkasa was up 1.63 percent at 21,850 rupiah. Consumer goods company Hero Supermarket dropped 1.95 percent to 3,775.

— India ended up 0.59 percent or 111.13 points at 18,793.44.

Engineering giant, Larsen and Toubro rose 2.17 percent to 1,668.2 rupees and software exporter TCS rose 2.26 percent to 1,319.5.

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