December 13, 2017
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dow, S&P end down, though Fed minutes supportive

A journalist takes notes as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is seen on a monitor speaking to his parliamentary group in Athens.

The Dow and S&P 500 edged down today following losses in energy shares, but minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting that showed concern from policymakers about raising interest rates too soon limited the decline.

Based on the latest available data, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 18.18 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,029.4, the S&P 500 lost 0.74 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,099.6 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.10 points, or 0.14 percent, to 4,906.36.

Expectations that Greece would reach an agreement with its international lenders drove a pan-European stock index to a seven-year high today, despite German resistance to the deal Greece wants.

Greece will submit a request to the euro zone on Thursday to extend a loan agreement for up to six months. EU paymaster Germany says Athens must stick to the terms of its existing bailout.

Nevertheless, traders said Greece was buying itself time, and Greece's benchmark ATG equity index climbed 1.1 percent while the country's banking index rose 5.7 percent.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index advanced 0.7 percent to 1,515.90 points, at around its highest level since early 2008.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index rose 0.8 percent and Germany's DAX gained 0.6 percent to put it near the DAX's earlier record highs.

Greek banks such as Piraeus and National Bank of Greece were among the best performers on the FTSEurofirst 300, rising 4.9 and 6.8 percent respectively.

Shares in Italy and Spain, whose economies face debt pressures similar to Greece, outperformed. Italy's FTSE MIB equity index rose 1.9 percent and Spain's Ibex advanced 1 percent.

Italian oil and gas group Eni provided further support to the Milan market. Its shares rose 3.4 percent after ENI reassured investors with a small dividend increase and pledged to cut capital spending after lower oil prices depressed fourth-quarter profit.

European bank stocks were also boosted by French lender Credit Agricole, whose shares rose 7.6 percent after it posted profits that beat market forecasts.

French conglomerate Bollore rose 2.5 percent after Carson Block, the head of investment research firm Muddy Waters, forecast solid gains for Bollore shares.

Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei share average closed at a fresh eight-year high today after US stocks rallied on hopes that a debt deal would be reached with Greece, while investors digested the Bank of Japan's decision to keep policy unchanged.

The Nikkei closed 1.2 percent higher at 18,199.17, the highest closing price since July 2007. The broader Topix gained 1.4 percent to 1,482.67, the highest closing level since December 2007. The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 rose 1.4 percent to 13,455.79.

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Tags:  US  stock market  Europe  Nikkei  

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