European stocks record mixed fortunes

Greece’s benchmark stockEuropean stocks traded mixed as oil prices bounced back a bit from 11-year lows and Asian stocks closed mostly higher.

Britain’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.7 per cent to 6,078.38 while Germany’s DAX lost 0.1 per cent to 10,490.53. France’s CAC 40 rose 0.1 per cent to 4,572.12. U.S. stocks appeared headed for slight bounce, with Dow futures up 0.2 per cent at 17,208.00 and broader S&P 500 futures rising 0.2 per cent at 2,019.00.

Markets are searching for direction as the flow of economic data eases off until after the New Year. Investors have already had plenty of time to digest this month’s major decisions by the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise rates and by the European Central Bank to increase its stimulus efforts.

“Today appears to be providing confirmation that unpredictability, inconsistency and choppiness will likely dominate the festive period amid lower volumes,” said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG, adding: “With both the ECB and Fed having acted, we are seeing somewhat of a comedown within financial markets, where direction and conviction appear to be lacking.”

Leaders in Beijing wrapped up their annual planning meeting Monday with renewed promises to promote economic growth. The Chinese government said it would be more proactive and flexible in using fiscal and monetary policy to keep growth in a “proper range,” the official Xinhua news agency said, citing an official statement. That’s raised hopes among some investors that Beijing will take more steps to support flagging growth in the world’s No. 2 economy.

Regional benchmarks spent the early part of the day in negative territory before closing higher. The exception was Japan’s Nikkei 225, which finished 0.2 per cent lower at 18,918.31. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.6 per cent to 1,992.56 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 per cent to 21,830.02. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China added 0.3 per cent to 3,651.77 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 crept up 0.2 per cent to 5,116.60. Indexes in Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and New Zealand also gained.

U.S. crude oil futures climbed 22 cents to $36.03 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose a penny to $36.36 a barrel in London after rebounding from Monday’s 11-year low at $36.05

The euro rose to $1.0945 from $1.0909 in the previous day’s trading. The dollar slipped to 121.02 yen from 121.10 yen.

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