BANGKOK – The Dow’s first close above 16,000 pushed most world stocks higher Friday but gains were kept in check by worries the Federal Reserve will cut its monetary stimulus soon.
Asian and European markets were roiled earlier this week by Fed minutes suggesting the U.S. central bank will start reducing its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases in coming months.
The super-easy monetary has kept interest rates low to support economic recovery in the U.S. but also propelled money into higher yielding stocks. Frequent shifts in expectations about when the stimulus will be withdrawn have sparked gyrations in markets, up and down.
Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia said the “buoyant” performance of U.S. markets encouraged investors back into stocks even as the Fed guessing game remains on the radar.
In Europe, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.4 per cent to 4,268.62 while Germany’s DAX and Britain’s FTSE 100 were little changed. Futures suggested more gains on Wall Street, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.1 per cent.
The Dow has been propelled higher by a combination of solid corporate earnings, a steadily strengthening economy and the Fed’s monetary policy.
Since the start of the year, the blue chip index is up 22 per cent. If it holds onto those gains, the Dow will have its best year since 2003. The Dow topped 14,000 in February and 15,000 in May.
In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.1 per cent to 15,381.72 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5 per cent to 23,696.28. Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.6 per cent to 2,006.23. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 0.9 per cent to 5,335.90.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was down 22 cents at $95.22 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.59 to close at $95.44 on Thursday after the U.S. government said monthly unemployment claims fell in a sign of an improving job market.
The euro rose to $1.3514 from $1.3472 late Thursday. The dollar was little changed at 101.21 yen.