International markets roundup
Market watch top headlines
A roundup of trading on major world markets:
NEW YORK - US stocks opened lower amid concerns that politicians will not act to avoid looming tax hikes and spending cuts expected to jolt the economy into recession.
In the first five minutes of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 56.48 points (0.44 per cent) at 12,821.65.
The S&P 500-stock index dropped 7.87 (0.56 per cent) to 1391.07, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 15.55 (0.52 per cent) at 2952.24.
LONDON - Europe's stock markets advanced after a late bout of optimism that politicians would act to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax rises and spending cuts which threatens to send the United States back into recession.
After having spent most of the day in negative territory, optimistic comments by US politicians helped London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies close with a 0.06 per cent gain at 5803.28 points.
In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 added 0.15 per cent to 7343.41 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 rose 0.37 per cent to 3515.19 points.
However Madrid's IBEX 35 slid 0.33 per cent to 7837.60 points after Spain's nationalised Bankia said it would cut 6000 jobs, about 28 per cent of its staff, by 2015.
The euro slipped to $US1.2923 from $US1.2938 late in New York on Tuesday, when the European single currency had briefly soared following the Greek deal.
HONG KONG - Asian markets fell, following losses on Wall Street, as traders fret US lawmakers will not agree a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
Forex dealers also ran for cover after the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said "little progress" had been made in cross-party talks on the looming tax hikes and spending cuts due to come in on January 1 that would tip the US into recession.
Tokyo slumped 1.22 per cent, or 114.95 points, to close at 9,308.35, Seoul ended 0.65 per cent, or 12.42 points, lower at 1,912.78 while Sydney shed 0.21 per cent, or 9.5 points, to finish at 4,447.3.
Hong Kong was down 0.62 per cent, or 135.05 points, at 21,708.98 and Shanghai closed down 0.89 per cent, or 17.64 points, at 1,973.52.
WELLINGTON - The NZX 50 Index rose 2.54 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4012.15, the highest close since January 3, 2008.