European markets down in trading; U.S. markets closed for Thanksgiving
FRANKFURT, Germany – Stock markets fell across Europe Thursday as business confidence in Germany – Europe’s largest economy – fell for the first time since the autumn.U.S. markets were closed Thursday because of the Thanksgiving Day holiday.In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.37 percent to close at 5,511.00 points, while in Frankfurt, the DAX Index fell 0.2 percent to 5,187.98 as investors looked to cash in on a lackluster session.Graphite and carbon maker SGL Carbon AG rose 2.2 percent to close at 13.85 euros ($16.32) on news it planned to expand operations in South Africa. HeidelbergCement AG was down 2.9 percent to close at 76.39 euros ($90) on profit taking by traders.Paris’ CAC-40 edged down 0.5 percent to 4,586.84, outpaced by bank BNP Paribas, which fell 1.4 percent despite reporting solid third-quarter results.In London, Brent crude futures for January delivery fell 39 cents to $55.82 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange, with swelling petroleum inventories bearing on the sentiment of buyers.The euro slipped against the dollar after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet reiterated in an interview that the bank wasn’t planning a series of interest-rate hikes and didn’t back off his statement last week that it would raise the rate from 2 percent, possibly when it meets next week.The 12-nation currency bought $1.1786 in New York trading, down from $1.1809 on Wednesday after business sentiment in Germany fell for the first time in three months. The Ifo institute poll showed business confidence in November at 97.8, down from a revised 98.8 in October. Economists had predicted a reading of 98.4.The British pound was at $1.7228, down slightly from $1.7234 and the dollar bought 118.91 Japanese yen, up from 118.78 yen.In London, radio station operator GCAP Media saw its shares fall 17 percent, or more than 58 pence ($1), to 282.75 pence ($48.75) after it posted a first-half loss of 10.1 million pounds ($17.4 million).In Asia, markets were largely up, led by South Korea, where trading rose to another record high.Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index rose 34.26 points, or 0.23 percent, to finish at 14,742.58 – the highest closing since Dec. 14, 2000. On Wednesday the Tokyo Stock Exchange was closed for Labor Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday. The Nikkei is up 28 percent for the year.Oil stocks climbed after a report in the Nihon Keizai newspaper that Nippon Oil Corp., the country’s major oil wholesaler, plans a business tie-up with two other oil companies, Teikoku Oil Co. and Inpex Corp. The latter two plan to merge in April 2006 to become Japan’s biggest natural resource developer.South Korean shares rose to a new record high supported by Wednesday’s gains among U.S. stocks and programmed buying. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, closed up 9.69 points, or 0.8 percent, at 1,291.71.In Hong Kong, shares rose for a seventh straight time, led by property stocks ahead of the debut of Hong Kong’s first property trust, the Link REIT.The blue chip Hang Seng Index rose 22.04 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,084.39, with gains coming from Henderson Land Development Co., Hang Lung Properties Ltd., Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. and New World Development.In Bombay, Indian shares closed higher, led by gains in cigarette major ITC and petrochemical firm Reliance Industries, as investors covered their short sales at the close of the November futures contract. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock Sensitive Index, or Sensex, gained 105.70 points, or 1.2 percent, at 8,744.04.