Markets in Europe Rise; Asian markets finish high

While markets were closed in the United States on Monday for observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the rest of the world was at a go. In Europe, markets rose as London’s FTSE 100 closed up 39.02 points at 5,494.39, while Germany’s DAX rose 42.58 points to close at 5,918.55. The CAC-40 in France ended 23.08 points higher at 3,977.46.


Merger reports were the talks of the day as Britain’s International Power PLC and Gaz de France SA were rumored to strike a partnership. The deal did not materialize as an announcement from the British company killed any potential rumors. Shares fell immediately down 3% from a high of 8%. British candy maker Cadbury PLC also remained in the spotlight amid speculation that its suitor Kraft Foods Inc. was preparing to sweeten its offer before a Tuesday deadline. Cadbury ended around 1.5 percent higher but investors remain skeptical that the current stand-off between the two companies can be ended.

Even though talks between International Power and Gaz de France failed to yield anything, analysts said there are mounting expectations that the amount of mergers and acquisitions taking place will increase over the coming months as the global economy recovers from recession. One corollary of increased confidence is an increase in mergers and acquisitions.

In the United States, Investor will be awaiting more 4th Quarter returns as Citigroup is posed to list its results on Tuesday. 4th Quarter results have been mixed so far as Alcoa reported gains but fell short of expectations and Intel having a surprise raise in profits. On Friday, U.S. stocks fell 1 percent as the Dow Jones suffered its first triple digit loss of the year.


A meeting of the 16 finance ministers of the countries that use the euro in Brussels later will be closely monitored in the currency markets as the main topic of debate will be the shaky state of Greece’s public finances. Concern about Greece’s debts has been one of the reasons why the euro has floundered over the last month or so from 16-month highs above $1.50. Earlier it hit a ten-day low of $1.4336 before recovering slightly to $1.4380. Greece’s problems have fueled concerns that the country may eventually have to be bailed out by its partners in the eurozone. Some observers are even speculating about a possible Greek exit from the single currency zone.


Earlier in Asia, Japan‘s Nikkei 225 stock average ended 127.02 points, or 1.2 percent, lower at 10,855.08 while Hong Kong‘s Hang Seng fell 194.15 points, or 0.9 percent, to 21,460.01. Markets in Singapore and Taiwan also lost ground. Other markets fared better, with South Korea‘s Kospi gaining 0.6 percent to 1,711.78 and Australia’s stock measure adding 0.2 percent and Shanghai’s index rising 0.4 percent. Oil prices rose modestly, with benchmark crude for February delivery up 40 cents at $78.40. On Friday, the contract slid $1.39 to settle at $78. The price was down $4.75 for the week after declining for five straight days.

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