TOKYO – Solid manufacturing surveys helped support share prices in Europe and Asia on Monday. However, Spanish stocks and the euro underperformed amid concerns over what is going on in the Spanish region of Catalonia following a disputed independence referendum over the weekend that saw hundreds of people injured.
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KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX advanced 0.2 percent to 12,856 while the CAC 40 of France rose 0.1 percent to 5,336. The FTSE 100 of Britain added 0.5 percent to 7,410. Wall Street looked set for modest gains at the bell, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.2 percent.
CATALAN UNREST: Spain's Ibex 35 fell 1.3 percent while the euro was 0.7 percent lower at $1.1733as investors tried to gauge what the weekend unrest in Catalonia means for the future of the Spanish state and European unity. The future of Catalonia is hugely important for Spain, as the region, whose capital is Barcelona, represents a fifth of the national economy. Polls consistently show that while most of its 7.5 million residents favored a referendum, they are roughly evenly split on the question of independence from Spain.
ANALYST TAKE: "While the vote isn't legally binding, traders are clearly a little concerned about the impact that the vote, not to mention how the situation was handled by the Spanish authorities," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.
UPBEAT EUROZONE DATA: The uncertainty over Spain comes at a time when the eurozone economy is clearly performing strongly. Official figures released Monday show that the number of unemployed people fell by 42,000 across the region in August, though the headline rate remained at 9.1 percent, its lowest level since early 2009. And financial information company IHS Markit said that business activity in the manufacturing sector rose to a level that's only been higher once in the 17-year history of the survey. Its main purchasing managers' index rose to 58.1 points in September from August's 57.4.
JAPAN ECONOMIC DATA: The Bank of Japan's quarterly "tankan" survey showed an improved outlook for the world's third-largest economy. The survey of leading manufacturers indicated growing shortages of factory capacity that could compel companies to invest more, helping to drive growth. Another, private sector survey, the Nikkei purchasing managers' index, likewise showed manufacturers increasing output to meet a rise in new orders. Similar strong readings in China and in the eurozone supported market sentiment despite the upheavals in Spain and escalating tensions with North Korea.
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ASIA'S DAY: Markets in China, Hong Kong, India and South Korea were closed Monday for national holidays. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.2 percent to 20,400.78 and the S&P ASX/200 jumped 0.8 percent to 5,729.30. Shares in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also gained.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.12 to $50.55 a barrel while Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, shed $1.01 to $55.78 a barrel.