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While you were sleeping: Mixed markets

Friday 9th April 2010

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Markets were mixed as concerns about Greece remain, while US retailers exceeded expectations, bolstering hopes for the US economic recovery.

In late trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.33%, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.38% and the Nasdaq Composite edged 0.26% higher.

Other active stocks included U.S. retailers Target Corp, and Gap Inc.

The early Easter holiday and an improving job market last month helped retailers beat Wall Street's forecast.

Shares of United Airlines parent UAL Corp jumped 8.6% to US$20.58 on Nasdaq and US Airways Group surged 13.1% to US$7.71 on the New York Stock Exchange in the wake of news that the two airlines were in merger talks.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, which is known as Wall Street’s ‘fear gauge’ fell 1.69% to 16.34.

The Dow Jones STOXX 600 slid 0.9% to 266.28.

The UK’s FTSE 100 fell 0.86%, Germany’s DAX shed 0.81% and France’s CAC dropped 1.2%.

Among the most actives were National Bank of Greece SA, BHP Billiton, Porsche SE, TNT NV and Hennes & Mauritz AB.

National Bank of Greece dropped 7.3% to 12.75 euros. Natixis Securities downgraded Greece’s biggest bank to “reduce” from “buy”, according to Bloomberg. Alpha Bank SA slid 7.4% to 6.11 euros. The third-biggest Greek lender was cut to “reduce” from “add” at Natixis.

The Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.09% to 81.53.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet told a news conference after the bank left euro zone interest rates at a record low 1%: "Default is not an issue for Greece" but the country must pursue its debt-cutting measures rigorously. He said a plan agreed by euro zone leaders last month to help Greece was "workable".

Trichet “helped boost demand for the euro,” Michael Malpede, an analyst at Easy Forex in Chicago, told Reuters, adding “It may have calmed some of the jitters ... over the Greek debt situation” but “I don't think Trichet's comments changed anything”.

The euro rose as high as US$1.3366 and was last up 0.1% at US$1.3356. It had hit a low around US$1.3282, according to Reuters data.

The yen rose broadly, with the US dollar falling as low as 92.84 yen.

The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index, which tracks 19 raw materials, fell 0.84% to 275.25.

US crude traded down 50 cents to US$85.38 a barrel, at midday in New York, after falling as low as US$84.38 early, while Brent crude fell 78 cents to US$84.81.

Copper futures in the US extended a reversal from 21-month highs, falling to their lowest levels in more than one week.

Copper for May delivery slipped 2.65 cents to US$3.5710 per lb by 1421 GMT on the NYMEX's COMEX division.

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