Markets edge up after mixed US economic data

AP News
Posted: Feb 13, 2014 11:55 AM

LONDON (AP) — Stocks in Europe and the U.S. edged higher on Thursday despite an earlier retreat in Asia as confidence grew that the past weeks' turmoil in markets has run its course.

Following huge uncertainty in January, when investors worried about the stability of emerging markets, the mood has become more positive. Analysts say the losses have made stocks more attractive to buy in the months ahead.

"This is a completely healthy part of the bull market and most were happy to see it," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.

"With that now behind us though, we need to see new 2014 highs being made or we could see a little unease creep back into the markets as investors question whether it was indeed a small correction or the start of something much bigger," he added.

In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent to close at 9,596.77 while the CAC-40 in France ended 0.2 percent higher at 4,312.80. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.2 percent to 6,659.42

In the U.S., stocks edged up further, though a 0.4 percent fall in monthly retail sales and a disappointing 8,000 increase in weekly jobless claims figures kept a lid on gains. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.2 percent at 15,999 and the broader S&P 500 index up 0.3 percent at 1,824.

"Mediocre retail sales and jobless claims figures have reminded investors that the country's economy is far from fixed," said David Madden, market analyst at IG.

The figures are unlikely to alter the view of policymakers at the U.S. Federal Reserve. Earlier this week, new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen confirmed she was happy with the current pace with which the Fed is withdrawing its monetary stimulus and that interest rates would remain low for a while to come.

Following the data, the dollar retained its flat tone. The euro was up 0.6 percent at $1.3670 while the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 102.21 yen.

Earlier in Asia, investor appetite for risks appeared subdued. Japan's Nikkei 225, the region's main index, dropped 1.8 percent to 14,534.74. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.5 percent to 22,165.53 while China's Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.6 percent lower at 2,098.40.