World stocks slightly up, Nikkei down as yen gains

World stock markets turn higher ahead of release of US factory orders for February

Associated Press
Asian stocks up after positive US economic data
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Men wait for a signal to change in front of an electronic stock indicator in Tokyo, Japan, Tuesday, April 2, 2013. A slowdown in U.S. factory production sent Asian stock markets lower Tuesday, while Japan's Nikkei slipped as the yen rose against the dollar. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets vacillated Tuesday after a slight slowdown in U.S. manufacturing growth, but European stocks rose as traders expected to see encouraging data from the world's No. 1 economy later in the day.

The U.S. Commerce Department will release factory orders for February later Tuesday. Chris Weston of IG Markets in Melbourne said the results "could put some positive sentiment back into the market" after U.S. manufacturing expanded more slowly in March than February.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent to 6,452.84. Germany's DAX advanced 0.6 percent to 7,841.93. France's CAC-40 rose 0.5 percent to 3,749.31. Wall Street also appeared headed for a session of gains, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.3 percent to 14,531. S&P 500 futures gained 0.3 percent to 1,560.60.

Earlier, Japan's Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.1 percent to close at 12,003.43 as the yen's recent weakness reversed course. A stronger currency makes products sold abroad more expensive, a hardship for Japan's export-dependent economy.

Analysts said, however, that the new government in Japan, with its new plan of attack to right the country's economy, has lifted business optimism. A survey released by the Bank of Japan on Monday showed an improvement in business sentiment, although it was smaller than expected.

"The economy is improving, albeit slowly, and the mood has been lifted by the assertive and coordinated economic plan of the new government," Moody's Analytics said in a market commentary.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 0.3 percent higher at 22,367.82.

"There are still some uncertainties out there," said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. "Right now my concern is the overall market is not too stable at the current level."

One factor contributing to market jitters, Yip said, was the dire debt situation in the weaker euro economies. The latest iteration of the crisis came Monday, when Cyprus was granted more time to reach its budget surplus target since the country's growth is likely to slow as a result of the drastic shrinking of its finance industry.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.4 percent to 4,985.50. South Korea's Kospi opened higher but then gave up its gains by midday. It was 0.5 percent down at 1,986.15. Benchmarks in mainland China, the Philippines and New Zealand also fell.

Among individual stocks, Australia's Dart Energy Ltd. plunged nearly 44 percent after announcing major restructuring and cost-cutting after tighter government restrictions on coal seam gas projects.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 15 cents to $96.93 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 16 cents to close at $97.07 a barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2833 from $1.2804 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 93.07 yen from 94.22 yen.

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