International markets roundup

A roundup of trading on major world markets:

NEW YORK - Wall Street closed mixed after two days of strong gains as advancing defensive sectors offset declines in materials, banks and other cyclical industries.

Investors this week have grown more comfortable with expectations the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates as soon as June, with many taking the view that such a hike would reflect improvement in the country's economy.

"People are taking their foot off the gas after making a bunch of money, and now they're waiting for the next data point," said Phil Blancato, chief executive of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management in New York.

In line with other policymakers who have spoken in recent days, Fed Governor Jerome Powell said a rate hike may come "fairly soon" if data confirms the US economy is continuing to grow and labour markets are still tightening

Data showed that while orders for US durable goods surged in April, business spending plans continued to show signs of weakness, suggesting the manufacturing rout was far from over.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.22 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 17,828.29, the S&P 500 lost 0.44 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 2,090.1.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 6.88 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 4,901.77.

Apple shares rose 0.61 per cent, providing the largest boost to the S&P 500, while Microsoft dipped 0.81 per cent, weighing most on the index.

LONDON - UK shares closed flat, despite commodity and energy-related stocks getting a boost as brent crude oil topped $US50 a barrel for the first time in nearly seven months.

Worries about US interest rates and signs of slowdown in China weighted on the mind of investors.

Oil's rise took it to levels more than 80 per cent above January's 12-year lows and was fuelled in part by a weaker US dollar, which fell against the Japanese yen.

European shares edged higher, led by the basic resources and oil and gas sectors.

London's FTSE 100 rose 2.8 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6,265.65, while Germany's DAX 30 gained 67.5 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 10,272.71.

HONG KONG - Shares across most of Asia were higher, led by energy shares.

But Chinese shares came under pressure during the session following weaker-than-expected corporate profit data.

Japan's Nikkei rose 0.1 per cent, giving up earlier gains as the yen firmed, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 per cent, struggling to extend its rebound from Tuesday's 12-week low.

Chinese shares fell more than one per cent at one point, with the CSI300 index touching its lowest since March 11 after data on Thursday showed profits at state-owned firms fell 8.4 per cent year-on-year in the first four months of 2016.

However, a late rally saw the index close 0.2 per cent higher.

Brent, the international benchmark oil price, rose as high as $US50.26 a barrel, its highest since early November, in the wake of data showing a sharper-than-expected fall in US crude stocks last week.

Tokyo's Nikkei rose 15.11 points to close at 16,772.46, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 29.06 points at 20,397.11.

WELLINGTON - The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 39.85 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 6,947.89.

Market Data

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