U.S. STOCK MARKETS
Stocks drifted higher in light trading volume on a bond-trading holiday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 28 points, or 0.2%, to 12844 in afternoon trading. Its rise of 61 points from the session's low of 12783 follows the worst weekly performance for the blue-chip benchmark in more than five months, and the Dow's third-straight weekly decline.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose three points, or 0.2%, to 1383, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose six points, or 0.2%, to 2911. Telecommunications stocks led Monday's rise, followed by a climb in health-care stocks.
United Technologies, Cisco Systems and AT&T were the Dow's biggest gainers. In corporate news, shares of Jefferies Group rallied 12% after the securities firm said it was being acquired by Leucadia National, a financial conglomerate that already owned a 29% stake in Jefferies.
Leucadia shares fell 4.5%. Titanium Metals soared 42% after the company agreed to be acquired by cast-metal parts maker Precision Castparts for approximately $2.9 billion in cash late Friday. Precision Castparts's shares rose 5.4%. Investors said the markets will likely continue to pivot on news surrounding the series of tax increases and spending cuts set to go into effect at the end of this year.
EUROPEAN STOCK MARKETS
European stock markets ended a volatile session on a downbeat note, as jitters over Greece's next bailout tranche spooked investors ahead of a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index lost 0.3% to close at 269.53, marking the fourth straight day of declines. Shares of Telecom Italia SpA jumped 4.2% after it said Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris had expressed interest in acquiring a stake in the carrier.
Peugeot SA shares rose 3.6%. Fitch Ratings said a French state guarantee of as much as EUR7 billion on the car maker's upcoming bond issuance will benefit the car maker, allowing it to offer cheaper loans to customers.
The guarantee, however, could also limit the firm's strategic independence, Fitch said. Heading in the other direction, shares of Davide Campari-Milano SpA lost 5.9%, as the spirits and beverages company said trading in Italy likely will remain volatile in fourth quarter.
For the broader market, Greece grabbed attention as investors looked for developments in the country's efforts to secure its next tranche of bailout money.
Early Monday, parliament passed its 2013 budget, as expected. The budget's approval comes ahead of a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers later Monday, with Greece likely to top the agenda.
The Athens General Index slumped 3.6% to 772.85, with shares of National Bank of Greece SA tumbling 14%. In Germany, shares of Deutsche Lufthansa AG gained 1.1%, as the airline said passenger volume for October rose 2.7% on the year.
The DAX 30 index gained 0.1% to close at 7,168.76. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index was marginally lower at 5,767.27. Shares of InterContinental Hotels Group PLC rose 1.4%, after Exane BNP Paribas lifted the firm to outperform from neutral.
Among French shares, Publicis Groupe SA rose 1.7% as the advertising and public-relations company's trading update showed revenue rose 7% in October. Shares of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA lost 1.2%, as Moody's Investors Service changed the outlook on the construction firm to negative from stable. The CAC 40 index closed 0.4% lower at 3,411.65 in Paris.
ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS
Asian markets were mixed Monday as Chinese trade data supported sentiment, while Japan stocks were weighed by downbeat quarterly growth data. Chinese trade data, released over the weekend, were the main positive, with a wider-than-expected trade surplus in October.
There was, however, a decline in Chinese imports during the month, most notably in copper. The trade data helped the Hong Kong stock market stabilize after suffering its worst week since July. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.2% to 21430.30.
There were gains in companies exposed to Chinese trade: shipping company Cosco Pacific was up 0.6% and sourcing company Li & Fung was 1.1% higher. The Shanghai Composite was helped more by the data, climbing 0.5% to 2079.27, as the 18th Party Congress continued in Beijing.
Japan released its third quarter growth data early Monday, which indicated a 3.5% on-quarter contraction in annualized terms for the July to September period.
The number was slightly better than the 3.9% contraction expected by economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires, but added to fears that Asia's second largest economy could have entered a recession.
Stocks in Japan were lower, with the Nikkei Stock Average down 0.9% at 8676.44, while the dollar was little changed against the yen. Some automotive stocks in Japan performed well however, with Suzuki Motor up 4.5% due to a sharp rise in net profit for the first half. Mazda added 1% on news of a tie-up with Toyota Motor to make vehicles in Mexico for the North American market.
Toyota however fell 1.8%. South Korea's Kospi Composite was 0.2% lower at 1900.87. In corporate news, HTC Corp. jumped 6.9% in Taiwan, hitting the daily limit, after the phonemaker reached a 10-year global licensing agreement with Apple, settling all current patent lawsuits between them.
COMMODITIES Base metals closed higher on the London Metal Exchange Monday, boosted by growing confidence in the metals' demand prospects from China. At the close, LME three-month copper was 0.9% higher on the day at $7,635 a metric ton.
Aluminum led the complex, up 2.4% at $1,967.50/ton. Crude-oil futures traded slipped back below $86 a barrel Monday as investors watched risks to oil demand against a backdrop of concerns about the U.S. fiscal cliff and ongoing debt crisis in the euro zone.
Oil for December delivery fell 50 cents to $85.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold ended flat in thin trading, with many market participants out for a holiday in the U.S. and an industry conference in Hong Kong. The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, settled unchanged at $1,730.90 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Compiled from MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD.