Markets hopeful on Wall Street return after storm

A police car patrols in front of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 before it reopens for trading for the first time this week following a two-day shutdown due to superstorm Sandy. Stock futures are rising ahead of the opening bell. Much of lower Manhattan and the financial district are still without electrical power. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

LONDON The planned return of trading on Wall Street after a two-day suspension due to superstorm Sandy helped financial markets edge higher in Europe and Asia on Wednesday.

The New York Stock Exchange closed Monday and Tuesday as the storm hit the city, leaving scores dead and a massive clear-up operation.

With the New York subway still down and a backlog of corporate earnings due for release, trading could be erratic. The volatility could be enhanced by the fact that it is the last day of the trading month, when many investors close out positions and try to improve their accounts.

"The first few hours are likely to be manic with the U.S. markets still to factor in corporate earnings from the start of the week and the effects of the hurricane among other things," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.

In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent to 7,330 and the CAC-40 in France was 0.4 percent higher at 3,473. Britain's FTSE 100 was down modestly at 5,840.

In the U.S., Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures pointed to 0.5 percent gains at the opening bell.

Markets have generally remained buoyant in the face of the U.S. storm, though Fawad Razaqzada, market strategist at GFT Markets said "insurers and infrastructure companies are certainly going to be worth watching as traders try to get a handle on the impact that will face these firms."

There's a raft of U.S. economic news to be released over the coming days, culminating in Friday's nonfarm payrolls data, which often set the market tone for a week or two after their release. This time they may have a more notable impact as they come days ahead of the country's closely-fought presidential election.

In the currency markets, the euro managed to brush off figures showing unemployment in the 17-country eurozone climbed to a record 11.6 percent in September. When the appetite for risk among investors increases, as evident in the rise of stock markets, traders often buy the euro and sell the dollar. By late morning London time, the euro was 0.4 percent higher on the day at $1.3020.

Oil prices though were flat with the benchmark New York rate unchanged at $85.54 a barrel.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index closed 0.1 percent lower at 8,928.29 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1 percent to 21,641.82. Mainland China's main index in Shanghai close 0.4 percent higher at 2068.88.

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