FROM MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD:
U.S. STOCK MARKETS:
The Nasdaq Composite index rose the most since December as hopes of political progress in Greece and talk of government efforts to buoy China's economy trumped a steep decline in Facebook's newly public stock.
Commuters pass by the NASDAQ Market site in New York, May 21, 2012.
The tech-heavy index jumped 68.42 points, or 2.5%, to 2847.21, its biggest percent increase since Dec. 20, as Apple rose 5.8% and Google climbed 2.3%. Other benchmarks saw their biggest gains of the month.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 135.10 points, or 1.1%, to 12504.48, avoiding a 13th loss in 14 sessions. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index added 20.77 points, or 1.6%, to 1315.99.
The materials and information technology sectors led advances, with the latter snapping a 12-day losing streak, its longest ever.
Facebook skidded 11% on its second day of trading, pushing it well below its $38 offer price. The stock had opened up 11% in its Friday debut but pared those gains to close at $38.23.
Cooper Industries jumped 25% after agreeing to be acquired by industrial manufacturer Eaton for $11.8 billion in cash and stock. Lowe's slumped 10% after the home-improvement retailer reported fiscal first-quarter results that topped analyst estimates, according to FactSet Research, but lowered its full-year earnings outlook. J.P. Morgan fell 2.9% after suspending its share repurchase program.
EUROPEAN STOCK MARKETS
Most European stock markets inched higher in a choppy session Monday, partly recovering from the prior week's steep losses, though Spanish markets were under pressure as investors continued to fret about the country's economic situation and banks.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed 0.5% higher at 240.17. Over the weekend, Group of Eight leaders affirmed their interest in keeping Greece in the euro zone, and encouraged leaders to pursue growth policies, but no new measures were announced.
Investors are now looking ahead to an informal European Union summit Wednesday. Spain's government late Friday revised up its budget deficit to 8.9% from 8.5% for 2011. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos reportedly denied that the country's banks need any sort of bailout, but also said the economy faces another contraction in the second quarter.
Spain's IBEX 35 index fell 0.7% to 6,524.00, with Banco Santander SA off 1.4% and BBVA SA 1.2% lower. Stocks in Italy were also lower, with the FTSE MIB Italy index down 0.3% to 13,012.04.
Bucking the trend, Banco Popolare SC surged 18.9% after Exane BNP Paribas upgraded the shares to outperform from underperform and Bank of America Merrill Lynch lifted the stock to buy from neutral. Elsewhere, the Athens General Index lost 1% to 544.56.
Germany DAX 30 index closed 1% higher at 6,331.04. Shares of Commerzbank AG rose 3.2% and Deutsche Bank AG added 1.7%. Health-care group Merck KGaA advanced 2.8% after UBS lifted the shares to buy from neutral. The French CAC 40 index gained 0.6% to 3,027.15.
Renault SA's shares shot up 4.7% after analysts at UBS added Renault to their key call list. Fellow auto maker Peugeot SA rose 4.2%. The FTSE 100 index closed 0.7% higher at 5,304.48. BP PLC added 0.9%, BG Group PLC gained 1.2% and Tullow Oil PLC rose 2.8% after crude oil prices bounced back.
Vedanta Resources PLC jumped 5.2% and Xstrata PLC added 3.1% following rises in most metals prices after comments from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that China will focus on economic growth to prevent a rapid downturn.
ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS
Asian markets were mostly higher Monday after G-8 leaders affirmed they want Greece to remain in the euro zone and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao raised hopes of further policy easing.
Japan's Nikkei finished 0.3% higher at 8633.89, while Korea's Kospi regained 0.9% to 1799.13. Chinese markets were little changed despite reassuring words from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
The China Shanghai SE Composite was up 0.2% at 2348.30, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished the day down 0.2% at 18922.32.
Wen highlighted the importance of adjusting policies to avoid an economic slowdown, raising hopes for further fiscal and monetary easing measures from Beijing.
Most Chinese constituents of the Hang Seng Index traded up after the news, but the Hang Seng index was weighed by its largest constituent, HSBC, which was down 1%, as well as the index's internet blue chip, Tencent Holdings, which fell 3.4%.
Some big Chinese real estate names did react to Wen's remarks, after he said the government will stabilize policies relating to property regulations. Shenzhen-listed China Vanke and Hong Kong-listed China Resources Land were both up 1.1%.
The Kospi recovered as much as 1.2% in early trading on news that South Korea's National Pension Service plans to invest 620 billion won in the stock market via nine asset management firms.
Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor rose 3.7% and 3.5%, respectively. In Japan, insurers helped offset steep declines in tech shares, although overall volume was tentative, totaling just over 1.5 billion shares.
Insurers garnered much of the early buying interest after several reported earnings around Friday' market close. Tokio Marine Holdings added 1.4% to Y1,790 and Sony Financial Holdings climbed 2.6% to Y1,163. Elsewhere, Renesas Electronics tumbled 10% to Y269 after a Goldman Sachs downgrade to Sell from Neutral. Panasonic also lost 1.8% to Y531 after Citigroup cut its target price to Y600 from Y720.
Base metals closed mixed on the London Metal Exchange Monday, although copper saw a strong start to the trading week following pro-growth comments by the Chinese premier over the weekend.
At the close, LME three-month copper was 1.0% higher at $7,730 a metric ton. Oil futures snapped a six-session losing streak Monday, lifted by brisk gains in equity markets and signs that Greece's departure from the euro zone appears less likely.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery settled $1.09, or 1.2%, higher, at $92.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange settled $1.67, or 1.6%, higher, at $108.81 a barrel.
Gold futures pulled back, recording their first loss in three trading sessions, as a lack of a new economic-policy response to Europe's debt woes limited demand for the precious metal as an alternative asset.
The most actively traded contract, for June delivery, fell $3.20, or 0.2%, to settle at $1,588.70 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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