Japanese stocks gained for a second day after sentiment among merchants jumped the most in more than two years, suggesting consumers may be recovering from the country’s worst disaster since World War II.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (8306), Japan’s biggest publicly traded lender, gained 0.8 percent after JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised its rating on the banking sector.
Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (9107) climbing 1.2 percent to 264 yen. Mitsubishi UFJ raised its investment rating to “outperform” from “neutral.”
Bigger rival Nippon Yusen K.K. rose 1.4 percent to 294 yen after its price estimate was boosted to 390 yen from 370 yen.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. (5110), Japan’s second-largest tiremaker, led rubber- products makers higher after Citigroup Inc. said tire demand is still strong.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the nuclear power plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, dropped 7.4 percent after the Nikkei newspaper said the government may idle of all of the country’s atomic plants.
European stocks dropped for a sixth day, their longest losing streak since March, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke gave no hint that the central bank will unveil a new round of stimulus.
U.K. stocks extended their loses as Moody’s Investors Service said the country’s Aaa credit rating will be at risk if the government misses its debt reduction targets.
UBS AG (UBSN) dropped 2.1 percent after a report that its investment banking unit will increase pay to retain senior employees.
Kabel Deutschland Holding AG (KD8), Germany’s largest cable operator, slumped 5 percent after reporting a full-year loss.
BHP Billiton Plc (BLT), the world’s largest mining company, dropped 2 percent to 2,295 pence as copper and aluminum fell for the first time in four days on the London Metal Exchange. Rio Tinto Group slid 1.2 percent to 4,147 pence.
Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) declined 4.2 percent to 4.29 euros after Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. reiterated its underperform rating on the stock. Shares in the Finnish mobile phone maker have plunged 45 percent this year.
Saab AB (SAABB) plunged 8.4 percent to 136.50 kronor, its biggest drop in more than a year, as BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s largest defense contractor, sold its remaining stake in the Swedish weapons maker for about $253 million. The sale brings an end to BAE’s 13-year investment in the maker of the Gripen fighter jet. BAE’s shares dropped 1.1 percent to 319.5 pence.
Stocks fell Wednesday, with the Dow and S&P ending lower for a sixth consecutive session, as investors remain concerned about signs of an economic slowdown.
Shares of Alcoa (AA, Fortune 500) fell over 2%, making it the worst performing Dow stock. But the index was supported by Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500), which rose 1% after analysts at Oppenheimer upgraded the stock.
Oil prices jumped nearly 2% to settle near $101 a barrel after OPEC failed to reach an agreement on crude production levels.
The spike in crude prices lifted shares of energy producers Cabot Oil and Gas (COG), Apache Corp. (APA, Fortune 500) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY, Fortune 500), among others.
Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) rose nearly 1%, after the company announced three new oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico that could produce 700 million barrels of product.
Companies: Hovnanian (HOV) reported disappointing earnings results after the market close Tuesday, sending shares of the homebuilder about 12% lower Wednesday.
LDK Solar (LDK) shares fell more than 7% after the company issued a cautious outlook.
Shares of telecommunications company JDS Uniphase (JDSU) were down sharply. Retail clothing companies Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) and Urban Outfitters (URBN) were also under pressure.