European markets move higher

EUROPEAN stock markets have moved higher despite a key German business sentiment indicator falling to its lowest level since March 2010, with traders looking towards possible stimulus measures.

After showing modest gains for most of the day, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index of leading shares closed up 1.10 per cent to 7,047.45 points and Paris’s CAC 40 gained 0.86 per cent to 3,462.83 points, following a call by senior US Fed official for immediate monetary easing.

The London stock exchange was closed on Monday for a bank holiday.

In Milan the FTSE MIB index rose 0.89 per cent, while Madrid’s IBEX 35 managed to climb 1.21 per cent despite Spain downgrading its 2010 and 2011 growth figures, showing it barely recovered from the last downturn before plunging anew into recession.

The European common currency bought $US1.2516, compared with $US1.2512 in New York late on Friday.

The US dollar was steady against the Japanese unit, buying 78.68 yen versus 78.66 yen late on Friday.

In Germany, the Ifo measure of business confidence fell for the fourth month running as Europe’s biggest economy showed signs of being affected more and more by the eurozone crisis.

“The German economy is continuing to falter,” Ifo president Hans-Werner Sinn noted, as “companies expressed greater pessimism regarding future business developments.”

Although it still manages to post slim growth rates, a raft of recent economic data, ranging from foreign trade statistics to industrial orders, new car registrations and investor confidence, suggests that momentum is fading.

But investors were looking ahead to what central bankers may say about stimulus measures when they meet this week at an annual retreat in the United States.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is to address on Friday the annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with markets anticipating details on how the Fed might encourage economic activity in the world’s biggest economy.

US stocks have moved higher after Apple’s patent court victory over Samsung lifted sentiment amid news of takeovers in the banking and auto rental sectors.

In midday trading the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.05 per cent to 13,164.63 points.

The S&P 500, a broader measure of the markets, rose 0.27 per cent to 1,415.00 points, while the tech-rich Nasdaq climbed 0.37 per cent to 3,081.27 points.

Apple shares scored new record highs, reaching $US680.87 before easing to $US675.86, up 1.9 per cent. The California gadget maker was awarded more than $US1 billion ($A963 million) in a massive US court victory over Samsung on Friday, in one of the biggest patent cases in decades.

In Asia meanwhile, stocks mostly edged lower, with shares in Samsung plunging 7.5 per cent, the biggest single-day percentage drop the firm has seen in nearly four years.

Hong Kong stocks ended down 0.41 per cent, or 81.36 points, to 19,798.67, Sydney slipped 0.12 per cent, or 5.2 points, to 4,343.7.

Shanghai ended down 1.74 per cent, or 36.39 points, to 2,055.71, while Seoul was down 0.10 per cent, dragged down by the sharp fall in Samsung shares.

Tokyo bucked the general trend, climbing 0.16 per cent to 9,085.39 points.

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