Stocks rise as strong 2016 nears the end; UK hits a record

AP News
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Posted: Dec 30, 2016 8:00 AM
Stocks rise as strong 2016 nears the end; UK hits a record

LONDON (AP) — Global stocks mostly rose on the year's last day of trading, with Britain's index rallying in the very last minutes Friday to hit a record high.

The euro jumped higher against the dollar for no clear reason, with thin trading volumes likely exacerbating volatility.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100, which was trading for only a half day, jumped in the final minutes to close at 7,142.83, an all-time high. That leaves it 14.4 percent higher over 2016, a year that included tumultuous news like the country's vote to leave the European Union. The index is largely composed of multinationals that earn most of their money outside the U.K., so the pound's drop this year has helped boost their share prices.

France's CAC 40 gained 0.1 percent to 4,842 and Germany's DAX was flat at 11,450. Futures augured some gains on Wall Street, where major indexes have hit a series of record highs in recent months. Dow futures were up 0.2 percent and S&P futures were 0.3 percent higher.

CURRENCIES: The euro saw a mysteriously big rally during Asian trading hours, jumping from $1.0490 to $1.0650 in a matter of minutes before easing back somewhat. Analysts said there was no apparent reason, though end-of-year book settling by traders and banks can cause big fluctuations in markets when trading is thin, as it is this week. By midmorning in Europe, the euro was up 0.5 percent at $1.0548. The dollar strengthened to 117.05 yen from 116.37 yen.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Today's price-action proved that shallow market depth can trigger some sharp and volatile moves, without any major news releases," said Haresh Menghani, analyst at FXStreet. "Hence, investors are likely to remain cautious and would refrain from committing to any directional bets ahead of New Year's weekend."

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.2 percent to 19,114.37 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1 percent to 22,000.56. China's Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.2 percent to close at 3,103.64. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.6 percent to 5,665.80. Markets in Southeast Asia were higher. South Korean markets were closed for holiday.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 6 cents to $53.71 per barrel in New York. The contract fell 29 cents on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 8 cents to $56.14 a barrel in London.

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