KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Global stock markets were mostly higher Monday as signs of U.S. economic recovery offset concerns that the Federal Reserve may reduce its monetary stimulus this month.
In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was flat
at 6,550.08 and Germany's DAX gained 0.5 percent to 9,316.73. The CAC-40 in
France, however, dipped 0.1 percent to 4,124.47.
Futures pointed to gains on Wall
Street, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.1 percent.
The U.S. on Friday reported a fourth straight month of job gains, with 203,000 new jobs created in November. The
unemployment rate fell to 7.0 percent from 7.3 percent. The strengthening job
market focused investors on the improving economy instead of concerns about a
possible reduction in the Fed's stimulus at its Dec. 17-18 policy meeting.
A run of strong economic data last
week had already cemented belief among investors that the Fed would back a
so-called tapering of its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. Earlier this
year, fears of the stimulus withdrawal had caused jitters in the markets as the
monetary injection has helped to shore up stocks for several years.
"The jobs data followed on from
several other firm U.S. data releases over the week, highlighting strengthening
signs of recovery. Equities reacted well, rising as fears over tapering were
outweighed by concrete signs of recovery," Credit Agricole CIB in Hong
Kong said in a market commentary.
Improvement in the U.S. economy, which
is the world's largest, could be a boon for export-reliant Asian nations.
Japan's Nikkei 225 surged 2.3 percent
to 15,650.21 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.3 percent at 23,811.17.
Benchmarks in mainland China, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia also
India's Sensex jumped 1.7 percent to a
record high after sweeping victories for India's pro-business opposition party
in state elections suggested it will win national polls in May.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 bucked the
trend and dropped 0.8 percent to 5,144.40.
Some analysts said the jury is still
out on the timing of stimulus reduction.
Singapore-based Mizuho Bank Ltd. said
markets may be wary that upcoming U.S. budget negotiations could stumble, which
will be bad for confidence and that could encourage the Fed to leave the asset
purchases in place.
DBS Vickers in Hong Kong said U.S.
inflation is still low, easing to 1.1 percent in November, and that the jobs
data may not be strong enough to convince the Fed that the economy is on a
self-sustaining recovery path.
"Tapering will come but April
still looks a good time frame to us, with risks to the far side rather than the
near side," it said.
Benchmark crude for January delivery
was up 26 cents at $97.91 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York
Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 27 cents to close at $97.65 on Friday.
In currencies, the euro rose to
$1.3726 from $1.3704 late Friday. The dollar fell to 103.09 yen from 103.04