U.S. Markets closed

World stocks muted ahead of US return from holiday

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stock markets were muted Tuesday, with Asian shares slightly lower after investors drew profits from recent rallies. European markets opened higher a day after the German central bank said the country will likely avoid recession.

The Bundesbank said in its monthly report Monday that the country should avoid recession since it is showing signs of growth so far this year. Europe's largest economy shrank 0.6 percent in the last quarter of 2012. Two straight quarters of falling output is a common definition of recession.

Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 6,332.39. Germany's DAX advanced 0.5 percent to 7,666.67. France's CAC-40 added 0.6 percent to 3,688.11.

Wall Street appeared headed for a higher open after a three-day holiday weekend. Dow Jones industrial futures gained nearly 0.1 percent to 13,957 and S&P 500 futures rose marginally to 1,517.70.

In Japan, investors went for profits following Monday's strong gains. The Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent to 11,372.34.

Some investors remained on the sidelines, waiting for Japan to announce the next head of its central bank to replace Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirikawa, who will leave the post in April. Analysts at DBS Bank in Singapore said they expect an announcement before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets President Barack Obama on Feb. 22 in Washington.

Abe, elected on promises of bold action to ignite the moribund Japanese economy, is likely to appoint someone with views in line with the program he is championing. One element of the program includes a target of 2 percent inflation to reverse two decades of falling prices, which hurts growth. He also favors a weaker yen.

Japanese stocks have soared in recent weeks as the yen has fallen in anticipation of steps that would push the currency lower.

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.1 percent to 1,985.83. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4 percent to 5,081.90.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 1 percent to 23,143.91, as traders cashed in shares that have posted sizeable gains in recent weeks, such as gambling stocks. Sands China plunged 4.4 percent. SJM Holdings plummeted 5.3 percent.

"Markets already had very strong cumulative gains, so in the absence of an incentive, the market seems to be undergoing a correction or consolidation," said Kwong Man Bun, the chief operating officer at KGI Securities in Hong Kong.

Mainland Chinese shares lost ground, with the Shanghai Composite Index down 1.6 percent at 2,382.91. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1.9 percent to 951.71. Shares in real estate and cement producers weakened.

"A rumor that there would be more policies to control real estate after the recent rise in housing sales led the market down," said Peng Yunliang, an analyst based in Shanghai.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was down 52 cents to $95.34 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3352 from $1.3358 late Monday in Asia. The dollar fell to 93.62 yen from 94.05 yen.


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AP researcher Fu Ting contributed from Shanghai.