Asian stocks mixed in sluggish trade; Europe rises, 1st Ld-Writethru


HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Monday in dwindling year-end trade, with Japan’s market rising modestly amid hopes a pickup in regional trade could help the world’s second-biggest economy avoid another recession. European shares were higher.

A number of Asian markets fluctuated in a narrow range, while the dollar was steady against the euro after strengthening last week and higher against the yen. Oil and gold prices were little changed.

Tokyo’s market got a boost after the country’s exports posted their smallest fall in 14 months with the help of robust Asian demand. The news raised hopes that a turnaround in Japan’s export sector, the engine of the country’s economy, is sustainable.

Sentiment in the region was dampened by sluggish sessions in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Investors were spooked by signs China’s government may step up restrictions on the booming real estate sector and the country’s banks may have to raise billions in new capital.

In early trade in Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.3 percent, Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent and France’s CAC-40 gained 0.3 percent. Futures augured a lackluster Monday on Wall Street. Dow futures were down 78 points, or 0.8 percent, at 10,281. S&P futures rose 0.2 point to 1,097.90.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average led gains, advancing 41.42, or 0.4 percent, to 10,183.47. Markets in Taiwan and Thailand also rose.

Hong Kong’s benchmark dropped 227.78 points, or 1.1 percent, to 20,948.10. China’s Shanghai index was down most of the day before closing 0.3 percent higher at 3,122.97.

China’s market made a technical correction after a string of new share sales helped to depress prices last week by draining cash available for stock purchases, analysts said.

“It’s probably just a brief comeback after heavy selling sentiment faded. But there’s still nothing stronger enough to shore it up,” said Zhang Gang, an analyst for Southwest Securities in Beijing.

South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.2 percent, Australia’s market lost 0.3 percent and India’s Sensex was off 0.5 percent.

Friday on Wall Street, the Dow rose 20.63, or 0.2 percent, to 10,328.89, after dropping 133 points Thursday.

The broader S&P 500 index rose 6.39, or 0.6 percent, to 1,102.47, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 31.64, or 1.5 percent, to 2,211.69.

For the week, the Dow fell 1.4 percent, the S&P 500 index fell 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1 percent.

Oil prices were slightly lower in Asia, with benchmark crude for January delivery down 14 cents to $73.22. The January contract, which expires later on Monday, rose 71 cents on Friday.

The dollar rose to 90.55 yen from 90.33 yen. The euro was little changed $1.4307.