SNOOZE: European Markets Inch Higher, Korea Closes Unchanged, US And The Rest Of The World Are Still On Holiday

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Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

BANGKOK (AP) — European stock markets headed higher in early trading Monday, while South Korea’s benchmark Kospi closed flat following the New Year’s holiday weekend.Britain’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.1 per cent at 5,572.28. Germany’s DAX was 1.1 per cent higher at 5,960.04. France’s CAC-40 rose 0.5 per cent to 3,174.76.

South Korea’s Kospi index, which lost 11 per cent of its value last year, closed nearly unchanged at 1,826.37. Most other Asian markets were closed for an extended New Year’s holiday.

South Korea’s tech sector move higher, with Samsung Electronics up 2.1 per cent and LG Electronics gaining 2.3 per cent. Steel giant POSCO slid 1.1 per cent and Korea Electric Power shed 1.8 per cent.

Taiwan’s TAIEX, which was also open for business Monday, fell 1.7 per cent to 6,952.21. Foxconn Technology, the world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturer, which makes iPads and iPhones for Apple Inc., fell 0.9 per cent. Personal computer maker Acer Inc. shed 2.3 per cent.

Benchmarks in the Philippines and India rose while Indonesia fell.

The Asian-Pacific region’s major benchmarks, including Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Australia’s S&P ASX 200, were closed. Markets in the U.S. are also closed in observance of New Year’s Day.

Last year was one that traders would prefer to forget: most Asian equity indexes closed out 2011 deeply in the red. The Nikkei in Tokyo ended the year at 8,429.45 — its lowest closing since 1982.

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, closed Monday, endured a 21 per cent loss for the year as the impact of Beijing’s multibillion-dollar stimulus faded and the government tightened curbs on lending and investment to cool blistering economic growth.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 18,434.39 — a precipitous slide of 19.7 per cent from a year ago. Singapore’s Straits Times Index took a 17.5 per cent dive when it closed at 2,646.35 on Friday.

Australia’s benchmark S&P ASX 200 ended the year at 4,140.4 — 14.5 per cent lower for 2011.

India’s benchmark Sensex index fell more than 22 per cent in 2011, making it one of the worst performers globally. The rupee also lost about 14 per cent this year and recently hit an all-time low, breaching 54 rupees to the dollar.

In hopes of reducing volatility and attracting foreign cash, India announced Sunday that it would allow individual foreign nationals to invest directly in its stock market starting Jan. 15. Currently, foreign investors are limited to indirect investments such as mutual funds.

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