U.S. STOCK MARKETS
U.S. stocks took a pause Monday, with the Dow industrials ticking down for the first in three sessions, as telecommunications and consumer-discretionary shares fell. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 3.56 points, or less than 0.1%, to 13271.64.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index added 12 points, or 0.8%, to 1451. Materials-sector stocks on the S&P 500 rose more than 2% to lead Tuesday's advance.
The blue-chip benchmark had capped its sixth-straight weekly advance on Friday, putting it within striking distance of multi-year highs.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index shed 0.03 point, or less than 0.1%, to 1418.13. Best Buy Co. tumbled 10%, its biggest decline since December, as buyout talks with founder Richard Schulze deteriorated and the company named Hubert Joly, the head of hospitality and restaurant giant Carlson, its chief executive.
The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.38 point, or less than 0.1%, to 3076.21. The European Central Bank played down reports it was preparing to intervene in sovereign-debt markets.
A spokesman for the central bank said a weekend report about such plans in German news magazine Der Spiegel was absolutely misleading.
In corporate news, shares of Coventry Health Care Inc. surged 20% after the company agreed to be acquired by Aetna Inc. in a deal valued at $5.7 billion in cash and stock. Aetna rose 5.6%. Lowe's dropped 5.8% after reporting disappointing quarterly results and issuing a downbeat outlook for the full year. Facebook Inc. reversed losses to rise 5%. Earlier, it touched an all-time intraday low of $18.75, less than half the social network's initial public offering price of $38.
EUROPEAN STOCK MARKETS
Banks and oil firms drove European stock markets lower Monday, as Germany's Bundesbank and the European Central Bank undercut hopes the ECB would soon undertake an aggressive program of government bond purchases.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.5% to close at 271.50. Oil firms contributed to the negative sentiment, as oil prices inched lower. BP PLC fell 0.5%, BG Group PLC lost 1% and Repsol SA dropped 4.4%.
In the other direction, Heineken NV rose 1.6% after the brewer Saturday said it raised its offer to buy the entire stake of its joint-venture partner Fraser & Neave Ltd. in Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd.
For the broader European markets, stocks were higher in midmorning action after German magazine Der Spiegel reported over the weekend that the ECB was considering a program of aggressive government bond buys when yields moved above a certain level versus German bunds.
Germany's Bundesbank, however, killed stock gains and dented hopes of unlimited bond purchases as it reiterated its opposition to the ECB buying more government debt. In its monthly report, it warned that any move to share solvency risks should be decided by governments. A spokesperson from ECB further called the Der Spiegel report misleading.
Spain's IBEX 35 index slid 1.2% to 7,469.60, while Italy's FTSE MIB index gave up 1% to 14,971.88. In addition, investors are looking ahead to a week of meetings about the euro zone's debt problems, with attention returning to Greece.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin Friday and will reportedly sound her out on a call to stretch the implementation of new austerity measures to four years rather than the two years agreed as part of the country's second bailout. Banks were among notable decliners on stock markets.
In Germany, Deutsche Bank AG fell 1.4% after weekend reports that U.S. prosecutors are investigating the bank over money-laundering allegations in Iran and Sudan. Commerzbank AG fell 2%. The DAX 30 index fell 0.1% to 7,033.68.
In the U.K., HSBC Holdings PLC slipped 1.2%, while Standard Chartered PLC was down 1.4%. The FTSE 100 index closed 0.5% lower at 5,824.37.
Outside the main index, platinum miner Lonmin PLC dropped 4.6% following violence and shootings at one of the firm's mines in South Africa last week. Among French stocks, car makers were among the biggest decliners. Peugeot SA fell 2.1% and Renault SA gave up 1.9%. The CAC 40 index fell 0.2% to 3,480.58.
ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS
Asian stocks kicked off the trading week on a downbeat note Monday, with Chinese policy makers seen as less inclined to cut interest rates after data showed real estate prices rising in a majority of major cities.
The recent softening of the yen was enough to lure investors back into Japanese equities, though the benefits diminished as the market was caught up in the region's lackluster mood.
The Nikkei ended up just 0.1% at 9171.16, as local exporters continued to climb. Canon was up 0.4% and Panasonic added 0.5%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped less than 0.1% to 20,104.27 as investors started to get into position for a week that will be dominated by earnings reports.
With more than 300 companies announcing results this week there could be plenty of volatility in individual stocks. China Merchants Bank and Chongqing Rural Commercial Bank kicked off the earnings season for Chinese banks after the close of trading Friday, and fell 1.4% and rose 2.3% respectively Monday.
China's largest banks, which will report this week and next, were lower: Industrial & Commercial Bank of China dropped 0.9% and China Construction Bank fell 0.7%. China Pacific Insurance (Group) fell 1.2% in Hong Kong after reporting that its first-half net profit dropped 54.6% on the year, in part due to lower investment returns.
The Shanghai Composite was down 0.4% at 2106.96 as property developers fell because of concerns Beijing will continue to apply property controls after real estate prices increased in some cities: China Vanke dropped 1.3% and Gemdale lost 2.4%.
South Korea's Kospi was flat at 1946.31 as the market was weighed by major blue chips: Samsung Electronics fell 0.9% as the tech giant was sold by investors ahead of a U.S. court's ruling on the company's legal battle with Apple. Hyundai Motor was off 1.4% due to concerns over an extended labor strike.
Base metals closed mixed on the London Metal Exchange Monday, as copper continued to face downward pressure from persistent uncertainty over whether policy makers around the world will take the necessary steps to stimulate economic growth.
At the close, LME three-month copper was down 1.1% from Friday's close at $7,455 a metric ton. Aluminum was down 1.1% at $1,837/ton.
Crude-oil futures edged lower Monday in tandem with equity markets on continued concern that slow global economic growth would limit oil demand. Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell four cents, or less than 0.1%, to settle at $95.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. October Brent crude on ICE Futures Europe fell one cent to settle at $113.70 a barrel.
Platinum futures settled at their highest level in more than three months as production disruptions at a large platinum mine in South Africa continued.
Platinum for October delivery, the most active contract, rose $25.10, or 1.7%, to settle at $1,498.20 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since May 9. Meanwhile, gold futures ended in positive territory as currency markets telegraphed a more upbeat tone to the market.
The most actively traded gold contract, for December delivery, rose $3.60, or 0.2%, to settle at $1,623.00 per troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Compiled from MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD.
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