Global Markets Overview - 30 January 2013

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By Christine Gaylican | January 30, 2013 10:05 AM EST

U.S. STOCKS, BONDS

Blue chips headed toward a five-year high as Pfizer topped earnings expectations and investors shrugged off sluggish consumer-confidence data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 68 points, or 0.5%, to 13950 in midafternoon trading Tuesday, on pace to close at the highest level since October 2007. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose seven points, or 0.5%, to 1507.

The Nasdaq Composite index declined one point, or 0.1%, to 3153 amid weakness in technology shares. Pfizer led the Dow, rising 3.2%, after the drug company's fourth-quarter results beat analysts' expectations.

A surge in fourth-quarter earnings fueled an 11% advance in shares of Valero Energy, the world's largest independent refiner, amid lower crude-oil costs.

Ford Motor slid 5.6% after the auto maker gave a downbeat outlook for its European operations, given a deteriorating outlook for industry volume.

On the economic front, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index for January fell more than expected by economists.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City home-price index for November gained 5.5% from a year earlier, matching the median estimate of economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

EUROPEAN STOCKS, BONDS

Oil firms helped lead European stocks higher Tuesday as crude prices topped $97 a barrel for the first time since mid-September while encouraging German consumer-confidence data and solid U.S. earnings reports also lifted sentiment.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index added 0.3% to close at 290.30 after snapping a three-day winning streak on Monday. Miners were strong in Europe as base and precious metal prices moved higher, with the latter helped especially by dollar weakness.

The Stoxx 600 basic resources index gained 1.7%. Anglo American jumped 3%. In a much anticipated move, the company said it would book a $4 billion impairment charge against the value of a Brazilian iron-ore project.

That helped the U.K.'s FTSE 100 to its first close above 6300 since May 19, 2008, gaining 0.7% to 6339.19. It was also its fifth consecutive finish in positive territory.

Among oil stocks, BP and Royal Dutch Shell both climbed 1.5%. But Royal Bank of Scotland Group was notably under pressure, dropping 6% as U.S. authorities push for criminal charges over interest-rate-rigging allegations.

Germany's DAX added 0.2% to 7848.57 and France's CAC-40 ticked up 0.1% to 3785.82. In Frankfurt, ThyssenKrupp rose 2.7%, while in Paris Total gained 1.6%.

Consumer confidence in Germany rebounded but French consumer confidence was flat and retail sales figures out of Spain fell sharply again in December.

The economic data were an indication of the growing chasm between Germany--the euro-zone's largest economy--and its smaller, struggling European neighbors.

Elsewhere, Royal Philips Electronics posted one of the biggest gains in the pan-European index, up 2.3%, after the Dutch firm said it expects sales to pick up in the second half of the year.

ASIA-PACIFIC STOCKS, BONDS

Asian markets ended mostly higher Tuesday, with Australia leading gains after reopening following a public holiday, while Hong Kong was weighed by a fall in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Regional markets were positioning themselves ahead of a string of major economic events later this week.

In the U.S., the Federal Reserve will conclude its latest policy meeting on Wednesday, while non-farm payrolls numbers will be released on Friday.

Also, China will release its official manufacturing data for January at the end of the week, providing investors with another chance to see whether the recovery in the region's largest economy remains on track.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended less than 0.1% lower to 23655.17, weighed by large constituent Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which dropped 2.2% after Goldman Sachs raised $1 billion in a block sale of the bank's stock.

The sale price of HK$5.77 per share represented a 3% discount to Monday's closing price. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite added 0.5% to 2358.98.

The dollar remained relatively firm against the yen while Japanese stocks markets were trading, with the Nikkei ending up 0.4% at 10866.72. Shares in telecom company KDDI Corp. in Tokyo rose 2.8% after it released third quarter earnings, with consolidated operating profit up 40% on year.

Japanese construction machinery companies were higher after Caterpillar voiced cautious optimism over recent improvements in economic indicators Monday, despite posting below-view fourth-quarter earnings: Komatsu was up 1.3% and Hitachi Construction Machinery rose 1.6%.

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.8% to 1955.96, ending a four-day losing streak. Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor climbed 2.7% and 4% respectively, as both companies started to recover from a period of selling prompted by their earnings reports last week.

COMMODITIES

Base metals ended higher on the London Metal Exchange Tuesday, as investors shrugged off disappointing U.S. consumer confidence data and a weaker greenback lent some support to prices.

At the close of open outcry trading, LME three-month copper was up 0.6% at $8,102 a metric ton. Nickel gained the most of the complex Tuesday, ending the session 1.3% higher on the day at $17,850/ton.

U.S. crude futures rose Tuesday, pushing above $97 a barrel for the first time in over four months as improving economic data added fuel to the oil rally.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled $1.13 higher at $97.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a 19-week high.

Gold futures finished higher for the first time in five sessions, finding safe-haven support from declines in U.S. consumer confidence and home prices as investors bet on continued quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. February gold rose $7.90, or 0.5%, to settle at $1,660.80 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Compiled from MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD.

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