HONG KONG: World stock markets advanced in thin trade on Monday as shares in commodities producers and Japanese financials gained ground. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 stock average edged higher by 7.65 points, or about 0.1, percent to 8,747.17, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 1 percent to 14,328.48.
As markets opened in Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 2.3 percent, while Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose about 1.3 percent each. U.S. futures, meanwhile, suggested a lower open on Wall Street. Dow futures fell 36 points, or 0.4 percent, to 8,436 and S&P 500 futures fell 3.4 points, or 0.4 percent, to 865.50 with many investors away for the holiday and their books already closed for the year, trade in most markets was quiet and marked by low volumes.
The recent rash of government stimulus measurable underpins sentiment despite worries that the first half of next year would see the global economy and company profits erode further.
“There’s this expectation and hope that governments could put a floor in for the economy and therefore lead to a better second half in 2009,” said Song Seng Wun, economist at CIMB-GK in Singapore.
Benchmarks in Singapore and Australia climbed more than 1 percent, while those in Shanghai and South Korea traded flat. India’s key stock measure fell more than 1 percent; markets in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were closed.
Among the session’s best performers were energy companies after oil prices hovered near $40 a barrel as concerns about supply disruptions in the Middle East flared along with fighting between Israel and Gaza.
Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd gained 5.7 percent, top Japúese refiner Nippon Oil Corp. jumped 6.5 percent, and ”Chinese upstream producer CNOOC rise 3.9 percent in Hong Kong trade.
Japanese financials were higher amid reports the country’s No. 2 non-life insurer, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group Holdings Inc, was in merger talks with two smaller rivals to create the country’s largest non-life insurer. Mitsui soared 8.3 percent.
Light, sweet crude for February delivery raised $1.85 to $39.56 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by late afternoon in Singapore. The contract on Friday raised $2.36 to settle at $37.71. The dollar weakened to 90.42 yen, down from 90.75. The euro traded higher at $1.4244 from $1.4031.-SANA