Stock markets upbeat as Wall Street scales new heights

John BIERS
Wall Street has a good thing going

Wall Street stocks barreled to new records Wednesday, with the Dow ending above 23,000 for the first time on strong IBM earnings as European bourses also advanced.

IBM shot up 8.9 percent after it reported a four percent drop in third-quarter earnings to $2.7 billion, but offered a more bullish outlook on revenue growth after more than five years of declining sales.

The Dow jumped 0.7 percent to 23,157.60, its third straight record. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also closed at records.

"In what is becoming an almost daily occurrence US markets have once again opened at record highs, with the Dow above 23,000 and the S&P 500 getting ever closer to the 2,600 level," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Analysts credit the run of US records to better earnings and anticipation of tax cuts that President Donald Trump is pushing for.

On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned that the stock market would drop if Washington fails to pass the tax measure.

In Europe, Frankfurt added 0.4 percent to set a new closing record of 13,043.03 points, having risen to nearly 13,100 points during the session.

London and Paris also gained 0.4 percent for the day.

Madrid rose 0.6 percent despite political trouble stemming from the Catalonia region.

Spain appeared to offer Catalonia's separatists a last-minute way out of their standoff with the central government on Wednesday, suggesting fresh elections in the region could resolve the country's worst political crisis in decades.

Hours before Catalan president Carles Puigdemont faces a 10:00 am (0800 GMT) Thursday deadline to say whether he is declaring independence, a government source told AFP that elections "could be considered a return to legality."

In Asia, Tokyo's main stocks index ended up 0.1 percent at another 21-year high -- but Seoul dropped 0.1 percent, and Taipei, Manila and Jakarta also turned negative.

Hong Kong edged 0.1-percent higher to rack up a fifth successive day of gains that have left it at a 10-year high, while Sydney and Wellington were both marginally higher.

Shanghai was up 0.3 percent. Chinese dealers are watching Beijing, where the Communist Party on Wednesday kicked off its congress to hand Xi Jinping a second five-year term, consolidating his already immense power at the helm of the world's number-two economy.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - DOW: UP 0.7 percent at 23,157.60 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,561.26 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP less than 0.1 percent at 6,624.22 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,542.87 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 13,043.03 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 5,383.81 (close)

Madrid - IBEX 35: UP 0.6 percent at 10,273.4

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,617.47

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 21,636.05 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 28,711.76 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,381.79 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1790 from $1.1766 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3204 from $1.3194

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.93 yen from 112.20 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 27 cents at $58.15 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 16 cents at $52.04 per barrel

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