Markets await US data as S&P edges toward record

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AP and AFP

LONDON/HONG KONG–Markets struggled to make gains Friday after another solid week that’s sent many of the world’s major stock indexes to multi-year highs.

U.S. stock markets have been at the forefront of the global advance, with the Dow Jones index recording a series of highs during a ten-day winning streak and the broader S&P 500 on the cusp of its own historic peak.

How markets close out the week could hinge on a raft of U.S. economic figures later in the day that include monthly inflation and industrial production data as well as the Empire survey into manufacturing conditions around the New York region.

“Recent U.S. data has been positive so the markets will be looking for this to continue,” said Neil MacKinnon, global market strategist at VTB Capital.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.1 percent at 6,521 while Germany’s DAX fell the same rate to 8,057. The CAC-40 in France underperformed its peers, trading 0.5 percent lower at 3,851.

Wall Street was poised for an unspectacular opening, though how it actually fares will depend on the economic figures. Both Dow futures and the S&P futures were down 0.1 percent.

Developments on Wall Street and the U.S. economy have largely dominated market sentiment this year despite ongoing worries over the global economy, particularly in Europe.

A summit of the 27 European Union leaders in Brussels failed to deliver any fundamental change in economic strategy though there was more talk of the need to promote growth rather than just cut debt.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.5 percent to 12,560.95 — its highest close in more than four years — after both houses of parliament endorsed Haruhiko Kuroda, the current president of the Asia Development Bank, to head the Bank of Japan.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent to 22,533.11. Shanghai closed up 0.36 percent, or 8.12 points, at 2,278.40. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.8 percent to 5,120.20. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.8 percent to 1,986.50.

Gold was at US$1,592.44 an ounce at 0815 GMT compared with US$1,584.80 late Thursday. In other markets: — Manila fell 0.60 percent, or 40.11 points, to 6,654.60. — Wellington rose 0.14 percent, or 5.96 points, to 4,387.06.