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Global stocks rise on strong earnings, new support from China

Hong Kong led gains in Asia but remains well down on the year to date owing to worries about China's stuttering economy (Bertha WANG)
Hong Kong led gains in Asia but remains well down on the year to date owing to worries about China's stuttering economy (Bertha WANG)

US and European indexes edged cautiously higher Tuesday as investors digested strong corporate results, while stocks in Hong Kong and Shanghai soared after Chinese authorities announced moves to reverse a long-running rout.

In the United States, The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.4 percent, while the broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index finished up 0.1 percent.

Among individual stocks, data analytics firm Palantir's share price surged more than 30 percent after announcing that its artificial intelligence offerings had helped it to surpass revenue expectations for the fourth quarter.

And the music streaming firm Spotify closed up 3.9 percent after it beat earnings expectations and its stock was upgraded by analysts.

"Today's a little bit of a misdirection kind of day," Patrick O'Hare from Briefing.com told AFP, referring to the US markets.

"What we have going on today really is a little bit of a drag from some profit taking in the mega cap stocks," he said.

- Fed dims March hopes -

Global investors were also still coming to terms with the prospect of US interest rates being kept at two-decade highs longer than hoped after a forecast-busting jobs report last week and a warning from Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell that an imminent cut was unlikely.

While inflation continues to come down, central bank officials have been reticent about pushing for a reduction in borrowing costs at the next meeting in March, as other indicators show the economy remains resilient.

Speaking Tuesday, Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester said it would be a "mistake" for the Fed to start cutting interest rates too soon, despite recent progress in bringing down inflation.

She added that, if the US economy continues to evolve as expected, the Fed should have the confidence to "begin moving rates down" later this year.

- More support from China -

Hong Kong and Shanghai had been among the world's worst-performing markets in 2024 as traders fret over ongoing weakness in the Chinese economy, the world's second largest.

China's leadership has become increasingly worried about the sell-off, which has wiped trillions off valuations, and has unveiled a string of measures to try to staunch the rout.

Hong Kong closed up 4.0 percent, helped by a surge in heavyweight tech firms including Alibaba, JD.com and XD Inc.

The surge came after Central Huijin Investment, the unit that holds Chinese government stakes in big financial institutions, said it would increase investments in funds.

That was followed by an announcement from the China Securities Regulatory Commission that it would urge more action from long-term funds and call on listed firms to ramp up repurchase.

"Authorities are stepping in after a wave of selling sent shares in mainland China to multi-year lows," said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Finalto trading group.

Analysts have warned that while such moves could provide some short-term relief, the government needed to address long-standing problems within the economy -- particularly the property sector -- to restore confidence.

In Europe, major markets added almost one percent by the close with Frankfurt hitting record territory after a surprise December rise in industrial orders.

London and Paris similarly advanced.

- Key figures around 2145 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 38,521.36 points (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 4,954.23 (close)

New York - Nasdaq Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 15,609.00 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.9 percent at 7,681.01 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.7 percent at 7,638.97 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.8 percent at 17,033.24 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8 percent at 4,690.90 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 36,160.66 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 4.0 percent at 16,136.87 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 3.2 percent at 2,789.49 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0758 from $1.0745 on Monday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 147.91 yen from 148.68 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2600 from $1.2536

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.36 pence from 85.68 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.7 percent at $73.31 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.8 percent at $78.59 per barrel

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