Chinese stocks higher, Japan falls as impact of U.S. rate cut fades

BEIJING -- Global stocks were mostly higher Monday following Wall Street's decline as the impact of a long-awaited U.S. interest rate cut faded.

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KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, Germany's DAX advanced 0.1 per cent to 10,619.00 and France's CAC 40 shed 0.3 per cent to 4,610.53. On Friday, the DAX lost 1.7 per cent, the CAC 40 fell 1.5 per cent and Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.7 per cent. Wall Street looked set for gains, with the Dow Jones industrial average future up 0.3 per cent and that for the Standard & Poor's 500 index up 0.4 per cent.

ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.8 per cent to 3,642.47 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.2 per cent to 21,791.68. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.4 per cent to 18,916.02, while Bangkok and Singapore also declined. Seoul's Kospi advanced 0.3 per cent to 1,981.19, India's Sensex added 0.6 per cent to 25,682.87 and New Zealand also rose. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 was unchanged at 5,109.00.

SLUMPING WALL STREET: Stocks plunged across all sectors Friday in the heaviest trading of the year as enthusiasm over a U.S. rate hike faded. Bank stocks fell the most after investors had bid them up in hopes they would become more profitable as lending rates climbed. Technology shares suffered more declines as a bad December got worse for Apple. The world's most valuable publicly traded company sank again, bringing its monthly loss to 10 per cent. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 367.29 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 17,128.55. The S&P 500 index fell 36.34 points, or 1.8 per cent, to 2,005.55. The Nasdaq composite sank 79.47 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 4,923.08. All 10 Standard & Poor's 500 sectors fell.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Friday's sell-off underscores the difficulty the U.S. stock market currently has in playing its traditional role as leader of world market rallies. U.S. valuations are full already. This makes the U.S. market vulnerable to risk off moves," Ric Spooner of CMC Markets said in a report. "European markets are likely to be focused on the results of the Spanish election. Early indications that Spain will be governed by an unwieldy coalition will increase the political risk to markets from this pivotal European economy."

SPANISH ELECTION: A strong showing by a pair of upstart parties in Spain's weekend election upended the traditional two-party system. The ruling Popular Party received the most votes but fell far short of a parliamentary majority and is at risk of being booted from power. If forced out of government, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his Popular Party would become the third European victim this year of a voter backlash against austerity following elections in Greece and Portugal seen as rebellions against unpopular tax hikes and spending cuts.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 45 cents to $35.61 per barrel in electronic trading on the U.S. Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 19 cents on Friday to close at $36.06. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 73 cents to $36.15 per barrel in London. It declined 18 cents in the previous session to $36.88.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 121.33 yen from Friday's 121.15 yen. The euro edged up to $1.0869 from $1.0867.


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