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International markets roundup

NEW YORK - US stocks have closed higher, but trimmed earlier gains after the Federal Reserve said inflation is rising this year, signaling it remains on track to boost interest rates again in March.

The Fed kept rates unchanged but, in a statement following its two-day policy meeting, it repeated that it expected that "further gradual" rate hikes will be warranted.

The central bank raised rates three times last year and sees three more hikes in 2018 even as it continues to trim its balance sheet on a largely pre-set schedule.

"The Fed's acknowledgment of the quickening pace of inflation today put three hikes in 2018 into the 'base-case' and perhaps raises the prospects for a fourth," said Mike Terwilliger, portfolio manager, Resource Credit Income Fund.

Stocks had been higher in earlier trading, lifted by a surge in Boeing that helped lead Wall Street out of a two-day slump on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 72.5 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 26,149.39, the S&P 500 gained 1.69 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 2,824.07 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.0 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 7,411.48.

LONDON - European shares fell on Wednesday as investors locked in profits at the end of a strong month while results from some of the region's biggest names also weighed.

The STOXX 600 index was down 0.2 per cent on the day, ending at its lowest in more than three weeks and suffering its third consecutive day of losses.

The pan-European benchmark, however, ended January with a 2.1 per cent monthly gain as optimism over earnings and economic growth outweighed recent bond market jitters and concerns over a rising euro.

"We've the impression that investors are looking for a pretext to take a breather and lock in some of their gains." said Andrea Tueni, head of sales at Saxo Banque Paris.

Results were centre stage on Wednesday, with investors particularly impatient with earnings misses in this high-valuation environment.

Ericsson sank 9.2 per cent after the telecoms equipment maker reported a deeper than expected loss and said the Chinese market would continue to decline.

Debt collector Intrum Justitia tumbled by 8.9 per cent after its fourth-quarter revenue and earnings missed expectations.

Shares in fashion retailer H&M fell 10.6 per cent after fourth-quarter profit and profit margins fell and the company said it would open far fewer stores in 2018.

HONG KONG - Asia stocks steadied on Wednesday after stuttering in the wake of rising global bond yields, while the US dollar came under renewed pressure, slipping to 2-1/2-year lows versus the yuan, ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy decision.

In his first State of the Union address since becoming US President, Donald Trump urged Republicans and Democrats to work toward compromises on immigration and infrastructure and implement legislation that generates at least $US1.5 trillion for new infrastructure investment.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advanced 0.3 per cent, reversing earlier losses. January has so far seen the index gain 6.5 per cent, putting it on course for its best month since March 2016.

Japan's Nikkei however dropped 0.8 per cent, though still capping a monthly gain of 1.5 per cent.

WELLINGTON - On Wednesday, the S&P/NZX50 Index rose 143.43 points, or 1.73 per cent, to 8,442.01.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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