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World stocks up as Europe debt crisis lumbers on

World stocks up as Europe debt crisis lumbers on

October 21st, 2011 by PAMELA SAMPSON, AP Business Writer in News

BANGKOK (AP) - World stock markets rose Friday, putting aside concerns that European leaders might not come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with the region's chronic debt crisis in time for a weekend summit.

Oil prices hovered above $86 per barrel and the dollar was higher against the euro but dipped against the yen.

European shares were higher in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 5,411.82. Germany's DAX was 0.6 percent higher at 5,802.16 and France's CAC-40 added 1 percent to 3,115.71. Wall Street was set to open higher, with Dow Jones industrial futures up 0.1 percent at 11,482 and S&P 500 futures 0.1 percent higher at 1,211.50.

Asian gains were muted after a sluggish start of the trading day.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed little changed at 8,678.89. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.2 percent to 18,025.72. South Korea's Kospi gained 1.8 percent to 1,838.38 and benchmarks in Singapore and Taiwan also rose.

Thailand's SET index was up 0.5 percent to 914.08, clawing back some of Thursday's losses even as the country's capital Bangkok braced for the possibility that floodwaters will defeat a network of barriers and inundate the city.

Mainland Chinese shares lost ground, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index falling 0.6 percent to 2,317.28, its lowest close in 31 months. The Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1.6 percent to 959.12. Shares in financials led gains while shares in glass and nonferrous metals weakened.

Worries that Europe's troubles could get worse have kept markets on edge for weeks, and analysts said the volatility could continue for the near future.

"What you see now is one day of gains and one day of losses," said Tom Kaan of Louis Capital Markets in Hong Kong. "With what has been happening in the world, there is still no confidence and I think this will continue to the end of the year."

The Greek government is widely expected to go through some kind of default or restructuring of its debt, which could deliver a severe blow to an already weak European economy.

Signs of a modest economic uptick in the U.S. helped boost shares of Japanese exporters that count on American consumers for sales. Yamaha Motor Corp. rose 2.7 percent and Panasonic Corp. was 1.6 percent higher.

Heavy equipment shares also rose. Japan's Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. gained 1.2 percent and South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. added 2.2 percent.

But shares of Japanese automotive giants Honda Motor Corp. and Toyoto Motor Corp. slipped after severe flooding forced a halt to their assembly lines in Thailand. Honda fell 0.4 percent and Toyota, 0.2 percent.

Samsung Electronics Co. rose 1.4 percent after the company announced it had surpassed Apple Inc. in smartphone sales in the July-September quarter. Yonhap news agency cited Shin Jong-kyun, president of Samsung's mobile division, as estimating that the company had shipped more than 20 million smartphones in the third quarter.

Wall Street trading was choppy as talks in Europe appeared to falter because of differences between Germany and France over how to protect European banks from the consequences of a default.

A messy default by Greece could lead to deep losses for European banks that hold Greek debt. If that causes them to pull back on lending to each other, it could cause another freeze in global credit markets like the one in late 2008 after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Wall Street rose slightly Thursday on news that a second summit meeting would take place next week after it became clear that France and Germany would not be able to bridge their difference in time for Sunday's meeting.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 0.3 percent to close at 11,541.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.5 percent to 1,215.39. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.2 percent to 2,598.62.

But analysts cautioned investors to rein in expectations of a solution to Europe's debt crisis.

"Whether this Sunday's EU Summit can live up to investor expectations remains to be seen ... the precedent set by previous summits already bodes ill for detailing of any new policy initiatives," Credit Agricole CIB wrote in a research note.

Sunday's summit was supposed to deliver a comprehensive plan to finally get a grip on the currency union's debt troubles. But French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday they needed more time after it became clear that the two countries disagreed on some key points of the plan.

Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 16 cents at $86.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 22 cents to settle at $86.07 in New York on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3721 from $1.3777 late Thursday in New York. The dollar fell to 76.70 yen from 76.85 yen.


AP researcher Fu Ting contributed from Shanghai.