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Asia shares rise on S&P high, Europe meanders

TOKYO/HONG KONG--Asian stock markets were boosted Wednesday after the S&P 500 rose above 1,900 for the first time, but European markets meandered ahead of a likely flat start to U.S. trading.

Germany's DAX slipped 0.1 percent to 9,746.37 and France's CAC-40 shed 0.1 percent to 4,498.55. Britain's FTSE 100 was barely changed at 6,870.63. Futures augured little movement on Wall Street, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both flat.

The euro was slightly firmer after taking a hit from a survey which showed German investor sentiment at an 18-month low, raising concerns about Europe's biggest economy.

The Standard & Poor's 500 topped the 1,900 mark for the first time Tuesday, driven by optimism over the economic recovery, before closing just below it, up 0.1 percent at 1,897.45.

Though most Asian markets were lifted by the boost to sentiment from Wall Street's performance, Japan's benchmark remained in negative territory as investors locked in profits from recent gains.

Tokyo eased 0.14 percent, or 19.68 points, to 14,405.76, Sydney was flat, dipping 0.03 percent or 1.7 points to 5,496.5, and Shanghai eased 0.14 percent or 2.82 points to 2,047.91.

Seoul closed 1.41 percent higher, adding 27.90 points to 2,010.83. Hong Kong advanced 1.03 percent, or 230.39 points to 22,582.77.

Traders took their foot off the pedal after Tuesday's rally in Asia, which was inspired by a big pick-up on Wall Street thanks to big gains for tech shares.

In New York on Tuesday the Dow and S&P 500 extended Monday's gains despite weaker than expected retail sales data.

The Dow added 0.12 percent and the S&P 500 edged up 0.04 percent, both setting new closing records, but the Nasdaq dipped 0.33 percent after surging 1.77 percent Monday.

U.S. retail and food services sales rose a mere 0.1 percent in April, softer than the 0.3 percent gain expected by analysts. However, the March increase was upwardly revised to 1.5 percent from the prior estimate of 1.2 percent.

Gold fetched US$1,303.17 an ounce at 1100 GMT compared with US$1,291.74 late Monday.

In other markets:

— Bangkok added 1.52 percent or 20.89 points to 1,396.03.

Telecoms company Advanced Info Service gained 4.31 percent to 242.00 baht, while Bangkok Life Assurance rose 4.55 percent to 74.75 baht.

— Jakarta closed 1.43 percent higher, or 70.24 points, to 4,991.64.

Cement maker Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa rose 5.27 percent to 23,975 rupiah, while lender Bank Danamon fell 0.69 percent to 4,300 rupiah.

— Kuala Lumpur rose 0.70 percent or 13.12 points to finish at a record high 1,879.20.

Hong Leong ended 3.8 percent higher at 16.00 ringgit while Kuala Lumpur Kepong gained 2.0 percent to 24.88. Fraser & Neave dropped 0.8 percent to 18.10 ringgit.

— Wellington put on 0.27 percent, or 14.02 points, to 5,213.40.

— Manila closed 0.40 percent higher, adding 27.63 points to 6,880.44.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust was unchanged at 86 pesos while Ayala Land rose 1.88 percent to 32.60 pesos.

— Mumbai slipped 0.24 percent or 56.11 points to end at 23,815.12 points.

Bajaj Finance fell 4.35 percent to 1,793 rupees, while Future Retail dipped 3.85 percent to 114.95 rupees.

— Singapore added 1.14 percent, or 36.66 points, to finish at 3,259.09.

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Indian stockbrokers celebrate as they watch the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) index on their trading terminal in Mumbai, Tuesday, May 13. India's stock market and currency rallied Tuesday on exit polls predicting election victory for a pro-business party and its allies.

(AP)

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