Stocks gain on ECB stimulus hopes, HK-China link

AP and AFP

TOKYO/HONG KONG–European shares were higher Monday, supported by expectations the European Central Bank (ECB) is prepared to offer new stimulus to nurse the region’s recovery.

Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent in early trading to 6,592.40 and the CAC-40 in France added 0.4 percent to 4,207.28. Germany’s DAX was up 0.2 percent at 9,308.64.

In the United States the Dow and S&P 500 ended Friday with a third straight record close after the Labor Department said the economy added 214,000 jobs last month. While that figure was weaker than the forecast 235,000, the previous two months’ job gains were revised upward and the unemployment rate slipped to a six-year low. The Dow edged up 0.11 percent and the S&P 500 nudged 0.03 percent higher, but the Nasdaq eased 0.13 percent. Asian markets were mixed Monday, with Japanese shares succumbing to profit-taking while Hong Kong and Shanghai rallied after a launch date was announced for a trading link between their stock exchanges. The dollar retreated from multi-year highs despite another record close on Wall Street that came in response to broadly upbeat jobs data.

Tokyo stocks closed 0.59 percent lower Monday on profit-taking and a stronger yen, while auto parts maker Takata plunged nearly 17 percent on fears of a criminal probe linked to a deadly airbag defect. The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange eased 99.85 points to finish at 16,780.53, while the Topix index of all first-section shares was off 0.26 percent, or 3.56 points, at 1,360.11. Traders took a breather after sending the market surging more than 10 percent over the past two weeks, helped by a weaker yen after the Bank of Japan boosted its monetary easing program. ��Given that a great deal of the market’s gains over the last several days and months have come on the back of a stronger U.S. currency, its weakness naturally invites profit-taking,�� said Nomura Securities equity market strategist Junichi Wako. He added, however, that ��a severe selloff is unlikely,�� partly because the Bank of Japan and government pension funds are known to be buying on the dip. Seoul closed up 0.95 percent, or 18.36 points, at 1,958.23 while Sydney fell 0.45 percent, or 25.1 points, to 5,524.0.

Shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai rallied Monday after officials announced a date for the launch of a program allowing cross trading between the cities’ stock exchanges. The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong climbed 0.83 percent, or 194.46 points, to 23,744.70 on turnover of HK$91.98 billion (US$11.87 billion). Traders were given a huge boost before the market open as Hong Kong Stock Exchange announced the trading link, which had been delayed by several weeks, would start on November 17.