Stocks mostly rise as earnings eclipse Fed doubts

AP News
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Posted: Oct 28, 2010 9:06 AM
Stocks mostly rise as earnings eclipse Fed doubts

World stock markets mostly rose Thursday as traders put aside uncertainty about the size of the Federal Reserve's economy-boosting bond purchase plan to sort through a raft of earnings reports.

Major companies such as Shell, Daimler, and Bayer offered upbeat results in Europe, whereas AstraZeneca and Banco Santander disappointed.

Asia's Hyundai said its profits rose while in the U.S., shares in ExxonMobil Corp., Eastman Kodak Co. and Motorola Inc. all rose after reporting their earnings. Microsoft was due later.

Britain's FTSE 100 index was up 1 percent at 5,699.84 and Germany's DAX was up 1 percent at 6,633.95. France's CAC-40 was 1.1 percent higher at 3,857.79.

Asian markets mostly closed higher and Wall Street was expected to edge up on the open _ Dow futures were 0.5 percent higher at 11,122 while Standard & Poor's 500 futures were up 0.6 percent to 1,185.90.

"Investors are still very much focused on the company news flow from the earnings front," said Song Seng Wun, an analyst with CIMB Research in Singapore. "Earnings may drive individual stock performance rather than the broader market itself."

Energy stocks were broadly higher after Shell reported a rise in profits due to higher oil prices and production levels. ExxonMobil disappointed expectations but its shares still gained. Financial shares, meanwile, were hurt after Banco Santander, the eurozone's largest bank by market capitalization, warned that the outlook for Europe had worsened.

The auto sector was buoyed after Daimler and Hyundai, and truck maker MAN AG reported strong gains, while chemicals maker BASF saw its earnings jump on an improvement in demand from industry.

Eyes will remain on earnings later in the U.S., with a report from Microsoft keeping investor attention away from the broader economic themes.

Sentiment was shaken earlier this week by reports that the size of the Fed's bond purchase may amount to a few hundred billion dollars, falling short of the $500 billion to $1 trillion previously estimated in the market.

The bond purchases would be aimed at driving interest rates lower and encourage lending and spending in a bid to spur the economy.

The Fed will meet next week and details of any stimulus are expected to be announced when the meeting wraps up Nov. 3.

In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index closed down 0.2 percent to 9,366.03 and barely reacted to the Bank of Japan's widely expected decision to leave its key interest rate unchanged at zero to 0.1 percent.

The central bank also cut its economic growth forecasts and gave more details of a $61 billion asset purchase program to help revive the Japanese economy, which is being battered by a strong yen and persistent deflation.

In Tokyo, Nintendo Co. _ the maker Pokemon and Super Mario video games and the popular Wii home console _ reported a loss of 2.01 billion yen ($24.7 million) for the April-September period. The company has been battered by plunging sales and a rising yen that has been hurting exports.

South Korea's Kospi also fell, by 0.1 percent to 1,907.87, while Chinese indexes were mixed. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2 percent to 2,992.58 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent to 23,210.86.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.8 percent to 4,684.90. Shares of ANZ Banking Group Ltd. surged 2.9 percent after posting a better-than-expected 53 percent rise in annual profit to 4.5 billion Australian dollars ($4.4 billion).

Markets in Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand and Taiwan were also up.

In currencies, the dollar slipped to 81.15 yen from 81.64 yen. The euro rose to $1.3873 from $1.3786.

Benchmark oil for December delivery was up 22 cents at $82.16 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 61 cents to settle at $81.94 on Wednesday.

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Associated Press writer Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.