HONG KONG (AP) — World stock markets traded in narrow ranges Wednesday as investment activity continued to wind down ahead of Christmas and New Year holidays.
News of a $6.3 billion banking deal sent Wall Street to new two-year highs the previous day and also gave Asian markets a boost but it wasn’t sustained in Japan where the benchmark index closed lower.
“I think a holiday mood is there and I don’t expect market turnover will increase a lot,” said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.
In early European trade, France’s CAC-40 slipped 0.1 percent to 3,921.95 and Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.3 percent to 5,937.40. Germany’s DAX declined 0.1 percent to 7,073.13.
Wall Street was set to open slightly lower with Dow futures down by 8 points, or 0.1 percent, at 11,463. Broader S&P futures edged lower by 1.1, or 0.1 percent, to 1,249.60.
Chinese shares fell on profit-taking, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index losing 0.9 percent to 2,877.90. The Shenzhen Composite Index for China’s smaller, second market slipped 0.8 percent to 1,338.20.
“Most individual investors sold off shares to lock in profits by the year’s end, though institutional investors began selectively buying blue chips, especially financial and property shares, for their earning outlook in 2011,” said Xu Zhiyuan, a strategist at Capital-edge Investment & Management Co. in Shanghai.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average closed down 0.2 percent to close at 10,346.48 after being higher for most of the day.
Trading houses benefited from a report in the Nikkei financial daily saying Japanese trading companies plan to boost investments in Chinese startups. Mitsui & Co. rose 1.4 percent, and Mitsubishi Corp. added 1.1 percent.
Japanese financial markets will be closed Thursday for the emperor’s birthday, a national holiday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent to finish at 23,045.19, South Korea’s Kospi advanced less than 0.1 percent to end at 2,038.11 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to close 4,778.40.
Benchmarks in Taiwan, New Zealand and Singapore also traded higher.
Among big movers, Sanyo Electric Co. shed 5.1 percent and Panasonic Electric Works Co. tumbled 4.6 percent in Tokyo. Investors sold after Panasonic Corp. announced details of a share swap plan to make both companies wholly-owned subsidiaries. Panasonic said it would offer 0.115 of its own shares for one Sanyo share and 0.925 Panasonic share for one Panasonic Electric Works share.
In Hong Kong, Sinopec rose 2.4 percent after Chinese authorities said late Tuesday that state-controlled gasoline and diesel prices would be hiked by about 4 percent after international crude oil prices jumped in recent weeks due to higher demand.
The state-owned company, also known as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., is Asia’s biggest oil refiner by volume.
In currencies, the dollar fell to 83.66 yen from 83.79 late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.3136 from $1.3101 late Tuesday.
Benchmark oil for February delivery rose 35 cents to $90.17 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 45 cents to settle at $89.82 on Tuesday.