International markets roundup

(Australian Associated Press)


NEW YORK: US stocks have edged higher, pushing the Nasdaq to a record high, with an upbeat outlook from UnitedHealth lifting health insurers.

Limiting the advance was a slide in oil prices, which pushed the S&P energy index down 0.9 per cent.

The healthcare index was up 0.8 per cent. Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest US health insurer, were up 3.1 per cent and hit a record high, a day after the company issued a better-than-expected earnings forecast for the coming year. Other insurers also gained.

But with market having already registered strong gains since the November 8 US election, analysts expect some of the bullish momentum to slow.

“I think we’ve had such large moves going into month-end that people are hesitant to chase what has worked post-election at this point,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut, adding “it’s way too early to say there’s a change in trend.”

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.13 per cent at 19,122.01, the S&P 500 had gained 0.31 per cent to 2,208.56 and the Nasdaq Composite had added 0.34 per cent to 5,387.01 by 3.15pm ET (0715 Wednesday AEDT).

LONDON: European shares rose slightly, helped by a strong rebound in Italian banks, while reports of a improved takeover offer sent Swiss biotech Actelion rallying to a fresh all-time high.

Italy’s bank index rose 4.1 per cent, helped by a Reuters report that the European Central Bank stands ready to buy more Italian bonds if a referendum on Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s constitutional reform this weekend rocks markets.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended up 0.3 per cent with gains in the broader European banking sector more than offsetting losses among mining and energy stocks.

Germany’s DAX was up 0.36 per cent at 10,620.49.

But London’s market fell with the FTSE 100 down 0.4 per cent at 6,772.00.

TOKYO: China’s blue-chip CSI300 index rose for the seventh straight day to strike an 11-month high, with big-cap industry leaders easily outperforming growth stocks.

The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.8 per cent, to 3,564.04 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.18 per cent to 3,282.92 points.

Investors were encouraged by more signs that China’s economy is stabilizing, with a Reuters poll showing manufacturing sector activity likely held onto a modest expansionary trend this month.

“The markets are now fixated with companies with good cash flow performance,” said Ren Chengde said, a Shanghai-based senior analyst at Galaxy Securities. “More cash means more dividends.”

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.27 per cent after two days of gains. Tokyo stocks slipped 0.27 per cent to 18,307.04, hit by a relatively strong yen.

WELLINGTON: The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 1.22 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 6,901.74.


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