Global markets mixed on interest rates, Portugal bailout, new Japan aftershock

| April 7, 2011 | 0 Comments
Global markets mixed on interest rates, Portugal bailout, new Japan aftershock

Asian equities markets were mixed Thursday after the Bank of Japan left interest rates steady and announced a ¥1 trillion ($12 billion) loan program for business damaged by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, while most European markets were lower and US markets were mixed after a 7.1-magnitude aftershock hit northern Japan too late in the day to have any effect on Asian markets.

A tsunami warning was issued after the quake, but was cancelled about an hour and a half after the aftershock struck at about 11:30 p.m. in Japan, and officials said that there appeared to be no new damaged at the troubled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.

Most European markets had been higher earlier in the session, after Portugal requested a bailout from the European Union, but dropped after the European Central Bank raised interest rates to 1.25 percent, from 1 percent, while at the same time the Bank of England held rates steady for another month at 0.5 percent.

The FTSE 100 was 0.56 percent lower to 6,007.37 in London, while the FTSE 250 dropped 1.04 percent to 11,659.4, where most banks saw gains but miners, retailers and the energy sector were overwhelmingly lower, with just a few gainers in each sector, online gamblers were lower, while gains on the 100 were led by power generator rental agent Aggreko (LSE: AGK) and vehicle rental specialist Northgate (LSE: NTG) was the best performer on the 250.

Elsewhere in the region, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.21 percent to 1,144.83 while the CAC-40 was 0.49 percent lower to 4,028.3 and the Dax dropped 0.5 percent to 7,178.78, but the IBEX added 0.04 percent to 10,849.1.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.07 percent to 9,590.93 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 0.18 percent to 841.1 but the Mothers market dropped 0.54 percent to 431.3, where the electronics sector was mixed, but carmakers and banks saw gains and Tokyo Electric Power (TYO: 9501) saw gains for the first time in 12 sessions.

Other markets seeing gains in the region included the Straits Times Index, which added 0.04 percent to 3,171.65 in Singapore, while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.22 percent to 3,007.91 and Taiwan’s Taiex gained 0.56 percent to 8,901.72.

The Hang Seng was down 0.01 percent to 24,281.8 in Hong Kong, Australia’s markets were lower as the S&P/ASX200 fell 0.1 percent to 4,908.1 and the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 0.12 percent to 5,005.5, the Sensex was 0.11 percent lower to 19,591.2, and South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.21 percent to 2,122.14.

New York markets were mixed in early afternoon trade, hurt by the new aftershock in Japan, and although most of the losses were recovered after the tsunami warning was cancelled, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.22 percent to 12,399.7 at just past 1 p.m. in New York, while the S&P 500 was 0.08 percent lower to 1,334.45 but the Nasdaq Composite was 0.14 percent higher to 2.803.69.

Some retailers were higher after many reported sales were better than expected in March at stores that had been open a year or more.

Crude oil prices were higher again as West Texas Intermediate crude traded near $110 per barrel, while metals prices were mixed as gold was slightly lower in midday trade but silver and copper prices saw gains.

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