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US stocks move slightly higher

US stocks were slightly higher on Friday as strong earnings from major US companies such as Procter & Gamble helped brush aside growth risk concerns in Europe and political tensions related to Saudi Arabia.

Consumer goods bellwether Procter & Gamble reported a surprise rise in first-quarter sales, sending its shares up 7.1 percent and boosting the consumer staples index by 2 percent.

The sector, which has largely underperformed the broader S&P 500 this year, was set for its biggest daily gain since June 2016. Other defensive sectors such as utilities and real estate rose 1.7 percent and 0.9 percent respectively.

At midday trade in New York, Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 80.99 points, or 0.32 percent, at 25,460.44, the S&P 500 was up 5.20 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,773.98. The Nasdaq Composite was down 9.99 points, or 0.13 percent, at 7,475.15.

Wall Street has had a rough ride over the last two weeks, suffering one of its worst two-day losses since 2015 on concerns over rising interest rates, trade tariffs and their impact on global growth and demand for stocks.

Among gainers on strong results was PayPal, which soared 8.4 percent and was on track for its best daily gain in two years after the payments company beat quarterly profit estimates.

Schlumberger rose 1.6 percent as its third-quarter profit increased on higher oilfield services demand. Honeywell pared earlier gains to trade flat as the industrial conglomerate said it was seeing slower growth in China and that trade tariffs would squeeze margins and potentially cost it “hundreds of millions” of dollars in 2019.

Shanghai stocks rally after supporting remarks

Shanghai stocks rebounded from early losses to surge more than two percent Friday after top economic officials made rare coordinated statements aimed at shoring up investor confidence in the country’s troubled markets.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 2.58 percent, or 64.05 points, to 2,550.47 but it still finished the week 2.1 percent lower. The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, also gained 2.58 percent, or 31.80 points, to 1,263.81 but lost 2.5 percent for the week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index also staged a rebound to end 0.42 percent, or 106.85 points, higher at 25,561.40.

Nikkei on track for third week of losses

Japan’s Nikkei fell on Friday, tracking broader losses in global equities markets and heading for its third straight week of decline.

The Nikkei share average at one stage dropped almost 2 percent to hit a six-week low of 22,212.57. Halfway through the morning session, it was down 1.48 percent at 22,323.74.

Japan’s benchmark index has given up around 8.7 percent since its 27-year peak hit on Oct. 2, as worries over Italy’s 2019 budget and growth concerns in China weigh on market sentiment globally. Investors also await November congressional elections in the United States.

Shares of construction equipment maker Komatsu sank 4.2 percent, Kubota Corp lost 2.5 percent and Nabtesco Corp slipped 3.1 percent.

Index-heavyweights such as SoftBank Corp and Nintendo declined, falling 2.7 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

Exporters fell after the yen strengthened overnight towards a one-month peak versus the dollar reached on Monday. Sony Corp lost 2.7 percent and Panasonic Corp gave up 1.1 percent.


European stocks waver at open

European stock markets wavered in opening deals on Friday heading into the weekend. In initial trade, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index of major blue-chip companies rose almost 0.2 percent to 7,039.37 points from the closing level on Thursday. In the eurozone, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 fell about 0.1 percent to 11,578.85 points, while the Paris CAC 40 rose by nearly 0.1 percent to stand at 5,119.64.

S Korean stocks recover tracking China rebound

Round-up of South Korean financial markets: South Korea’s KOSPI stock index recovered from early falls to close higher on Friday, tracking a rebound in Chinese equities after regulators pledged steps aimed at calming markets and supporting struggling firms. The Korean won strengthened, while bond yields rose.

The KOSPI closed 7.95 points, or 0.37 percent, higher at 2,156.26 after declining 1.4 percent earlier. For the week, it slipped 0.3 percent, in its third straight weekly fall. The Shanghai Composite index surged 2.5 percent after China’s securities regulator unveiled a series of measures to aid the country’s struggling stock market. Earlier in the day, the index hit a near four-year low. The comments from regulators came ahead of the release of China’s GDP figures, which showed the economy grew 6.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, below expectations and its weakest pace since the first quarter of 2009. The KOSPI is down around 12.9 percent so far this year, and down by 6.89 percent in the previous 30 days. The trading volume during the session on the KOSPI index was 343,437,000 shares and, of the total traded issues of 897, the number of advancing shares was 395.

Sri Lanka stocks lower at close

Sri Lanka stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Power & Energy, Investment Trust and Trading sectors led shares lower. At the close in Colombo, the CSE All-Share declined 0.30 percent to hit a new 3-years low.

The best performers of the session on the CSE All-Share were SMB Leasing PLC, which rose 25.00 percent or 0.1000 points to trade at 0.5000 at the close. Meanwhile, Lighthouse Hotel PLC added 20.00 percent or 6.00 points to end at 36.00 and Blue Diamonds Jewellery Worldwide PLC) was up 16.67 percent or 0.100 points to 0.700 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Huejay International Investments PLC, which fell 23.53 percent or 6.00 points to trade at 19.50 at the close. PCH Holdings PLC declined 20.00 percent or 0.100 points to end at 0.400 and Lee Hedges PLC was down 19.00 percent or 13.30 points to 56.70. Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Colombo Stock Exchange by 81 to 71 and 58 ended unchanged. Shares in Huejay International Investments PLC fell to all time lows; losing 23.53 percent or 6.00 to 19.50.

Shares in Lee Hedges PLC fell to 52-week lows; down 19.00 percent or 13.30 to 56.70. Crude oil for November delivery was up 0.67 percent or 0.46 to $69.11 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in December rose 0.97 percent or 0.77 to hit $80.06 a barrel, while the December Gold Futures contract rose 0.09 percent or 1.10 to trade at $1231.20 a troy ounce. GBP/LKR was down 0.05percent to 223.595, while USD/LKR rose 0.13percent to 171.510. The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.08 percent at 95.64.

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