International Market News

Asian stocks modestly higher following S&P record

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets posted modest gains Wednesday after the latest record close for the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was up 0.1 percent at 15,533.88 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.1 percent to 25,106.65. South Korea's Kospi added 0.5 percent to 2,078.07. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 5,648.40. Southeast Asian markets also were higher.

SPILLOVER: The S&P 500's 0.1 percent gain to a record close of 2,000.02, supported by strong U.S. consumer confidence data, provided upward momentum ahead of the release of key economic data in Japan later this week. The Dow Jones industrial average also closed higher Tuesday, gaining 0.2 percent to 17,106.70.

ANALYST TAKE: Investors remain cautious over the outlook for China and Japan, the world's second and third-largest economies. "There is more noise about weak lending in August, which would mean the second straight month of poor credit expansion" in China, Dariusz Kowalczyk of Credit Agricole said in a research note. "This bodes ill for third-quarter growth, given that government stimulus is directed mainly through infrastructure spending, which is funded by lending."

EUROPE: Investors took heart from the U.S. gains, moderating geopolitical tensions anddovish comments by the European central bank governor, Mario Draghi, indicating more stimulus is in the pipeline. Germany's DAX rose 0.8 percent Tuesday and France's CAC-40 added 1.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.7 percent after being closed Monday for a holiday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dropped to 103.96 yen from 104.10 yen late Tuesday. The euro slipped to $1.3164 from $1.3169.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude for October delivery was up 8 cents at $93.94 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 51 cents to close at $93.86 on Tuesday.

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