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AAP

2012-12-17

A roundup of trading on major world markets:

NEW YORK - US stocks fell on Friday amid worries about Washington's budget impasse over the looming fiscal cliff, with a sharp drop in heavyweight Apple weighing on the Nasdaq.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 35.71 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 13,135.01.

The broad-market S&P 500 fell 5.87 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 1,413.58, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 20.83 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 2,971.33.

Investors continued to fret about sharp tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in January if Washington fails to reach a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, which economists say would drag the United States into recession.

The technology sector dragged as Apple, the most valuable company by market capitalisation, dropped 3.8 per cent on the day it launched its iPhone 5 in China amid analyst concerns about a lack of consumer interest.

LONDON - Europe's main stock markets ended narrowly mixed with upbeat Chinese data failing to dispel gloomy Japanese industrial sentiment and ongoing US fiscal cliff worries.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 added 0.19 per cent to 7,596.47 points on Friday, while in Paris the CAC 40 was flat at 3,643.28 points.

London's FTSE 100 index slid 0.13 per cent to 5,921.76 points, one day after Standard and Poor's cut the outlook on Britain's AAA credit rating from stable to negative, sparking concern over the potential loss of the top-level assessment.

Europe's leaders gathered in Brussels on Friday for their seventh and final summit of a crisis-hit year, trumpeting deals to save Greece and monitor banks.

But leaders dampened hopes of a swift deal to radically overhaul the eurozone, leaving plans for the future in the long grass of 2014 and beyond.

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed, with strong Chinese manufacturing figures offset by concern about the US fiscal cliff and downbeat Japanese business confidence data.

Currency traders on Friday continued to sell the yen on the last working day before Japan held its general election, in which the ruling party was ousted.

Tokyo closed flat, dipping 5.17 points to 9,737.56.

Seoul eased 0.39 per cent, shedding 7.73 points to close at 1,995.04, and Hong Kong closed up 0.71 per cent, or 160.40 points, at 22,605.98.

Shanghai surged 4.32 per cent, or 89.15 points, to 2,150.63 after HSBC said China's manufacturing activity hit a 14-month high this month, another sign the world's No.2 economy is picking up steam.

The bank's preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) hit 50.9, up from a final 50.5 in November when the figure returned to growth after 12 consecutive months of contraction.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion while one below signals contraction.

The December reading is the highest since October last year.

WELLINGTON - The New Zealand share market ended the week on a marginally positive note.

The NZX 50 index rose 4.44 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 3979.17.