World stocks meander as US, Japan observe holiday

World stock markets meander as US, Japan observe holidays

Associated Press
Markets solid as US shoppers hit the mall

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A man walks by a securities company in Tokyo Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. World stock markets rose Thursday after a survey showed that China's manufacturing expanded for the first time in 13 months, rare good news for the struggling global economy. Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.6 percent to close at 9,366.80 - its highest finish since May 2 - as a recently weakened yen provided a vital boost to the export-heavy index. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stock markets saw little movement Friday amid holidays in the U.S. and Japan, although traders kept an eye on Americans hitting the stores for the start of the biggest shopping season of the year.

"It often provides a first glimpse at the strength of consumer spending in holiday season," Michael Carey of Credit Agricole CIB said in a market commentary. "Many industry analysts expect the gains to be centered in the consumer electronics sector."

The day is dubbed "Black Friday" because it falls on the day after Thanksgiving and is when U.S. retailers traditionally turn a profit as millions of Americans rush out to stores in search of gifts for Christmas and other celebrations.

European stocks were nearly unchanged in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 edged marginally higher to 5,792.21. Germany's DAX was flat at 7,243.52. France's CAC-40 was less than 0.1 percent up at 3,498.48.

Wall Street prepared to open for a half-session after Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.3 percent to 12,836 while S&P 500 futures gained 0.3 percent to 1,391.80.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.8 percent to 21,913.98 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.6 percent to 1,911.33. Benchmarks in Taiwan, mainland China and the Philippines also rose. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged at 4,413. Benchmarks in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand fell.

A manufacturing survey that showed China's manufacturing grew for the first time in 13 months in November helped boost global stock markets on Thursday. The gains in Europe came despite a survey showing that the combined economy of the 17 countries that use the euro remains in recession.

Over recent weeks, the focus of attention has been on two main issues — whether the White House can come to a deal with Congress on the budget and whether Greece will get its next batch of bailout cash.

Though a deal on either front has yet to be achieved, investors remain confident that their worst fears — a U.S. recession and a Greek exit from the euro — will be averted.

A U.S. budget deal is expected to be achieved to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts at the start of next year, while observers say Greece will likely get approval for the release of the money it needs to avoid bankruptcy at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

"Should both events be concluded successfully, one can only assume we will be in for a good run into the end of the year and possibly get back to the levels we were trading in the lead up to the US presidential elections," said Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was down 13 cents to $87.25 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 63 cents to finish at $87.38 a barrel on Wednesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2880 from $1.2825 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar fell to 82.14 yen from 82.49 yen.


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