Asian markets lower, while European markets advance

Asian markets lower, while Eruopean markets advance

Global equities markets were mixed on Wednesday as European markets seemed to be starting to recover from last week’s declines but many Asian markets continued to see losses.

In Asia, many markets were lower on the session. The main exception seemed to be the Straits Times index in Singapore, which added 0.72 percent on the day to 3,059.15. India’s Sensex dropped 0.92 percent to 12,579.7, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dropped 0.73 percent to 18,918.64. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.5 percent to 16,764.62, the Topix index fell 0.2 percent to 1,689.60, and the Mothers market of small and mid-caps was 1.2 percent lower to 1,036.58.

European markets were higher, with the FTSE Eurofirst 300 adding 1,467.32, a gain of 0.47 percent. The Xetra Dax gained 0.34 percent to 6,617.75, while the CAC 40 was 0.33 percent higher to 5,455.07. Moscow’s RTS was up 1.69 percent to 1,763.66. Carmakers were higher, as were the oil companies. The oil sector was helped by declines in US inventories of crude oil and gasoline, which sent prices up. The real estate sector saw gains based on broker comments. Both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank are scheduled to issue new interest rate decisions on Thursday.

In London, the FTSE 100 added 0.29 percent to 6,156.5, while the FTSE 250 gained 1.56 percent to 11,184.5. Banks were lower as many moved ex-dividend, while real estate and online gamblers saw advances.

On Wall Street, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 held steady, at 12,211.43 and 1,394.66 respectively, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.3 percent to 2,377.45. As in Europe, the oil sector saw advances on higher oil prices. Computer-related shares were mixed.

Crude oil prices were more than a dollar higher after the Energy Information Administration said that crude oil stockpiles in the United States dropped by 4.8 million barrels last week after they had been expected to rise by 2 million barrels. Gasoline inventories were also down more than expected, while heating oil stockpiles did not decline as much as had been forecast. Metals prices were also higher, with nickel adding 4.2 percent and hitting a new record high price during the session after London Metal Exchange inventories in the metal fell to extremely low levels.

In currency markets, there was very little movement in the yen, while sterling weakened versus the yen and the Swiss franc. The Australian dollar strengthened versus the US dollar on the news that the Australian economy grew by 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006.

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