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Most Asian stocks climbed, with the regional benchmark near a 2 1/2-year high, as Japanese shares advanced after news reports of business alliances. Chinese stocks reversed earlier gains after the country’s official interest rates were raised over the weekend.
Elpida Memory Inc., the world’s third-largest maker of computer-memory chips, gained 1.6 percent after Kyodo news reported it is in talks with Taiwan semiconductor companies on a business tie-up. Canon Inc. and Hitachi Ltd. climbed at least 0.7 percent after the Nikkei newspaper said Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. plans to acquire control of their liquid- crystal display venture. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s No. 1 lender by market value, fell 0.7 percent after gaining as much as 1 percent in the wake of China’s decision to increase interest rates as it battles inflation.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.2 percent to 135.52 as of 7:33 p.m. in Tokyo, with four stocks gaining for every three that fell. The gauge earlier touched an intraday high of 135.72, its topmost level since July 24, 2008.
European stocks retreated after the longest stretch of weekly gains for the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index since April.
Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG tumbled more than 4 percent after China, the world’s largest car market, raised interest rates for the second time in just over two months. Bankinter SA led banks lower, sliding 4.3 percent as the number of mortgages issued for Spanish homes plunged.
The Stoxx 600 slid 0.8 percent to 279.18 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Frankfurt, as almost four companies fell for every one that gained. The gauge has climbed for four straight weeks, extending this year’s advance to 10 percent, as better-than- estimated U.S. economic data overcame concern about Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis. The index last week climbed to the highest since before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008.
National benchmark indexes declined in all 16 western European markets that were open except Iceland. France’s CAC 40 slid 1 percent and Germany’s DAX dropped 1.2 percent. The U.K. and Ireland were closed for a public holiday.
Most U.S. stocks rose, extending the biggest December rally since 1991 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as American International Group Inc. led financial shares higher after obtaining $4.3 billion in bank credit lines.
AIG surged 11 percent, leading the gains in the S&P 500. Cisco Systems Inc. advanced 2.3 percent after Barron’s reported that the largest maker of networking equipment may initiate a dividend. Halliburton Co. and Baker Hughes Inc. declined at least 1 percent as oil retreated from a two-year high amid concern demand will slow after China raised interest rates to cool its economy.
The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,258.30 as of 2:45 p.m. in New York after falling as much as 0.4 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 11.2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,562.29. The VIX, as the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index is known, rose 8.3 percent to 17.88 and climbed as much as 11 percent, the biggest intraday jump since Nov. 26.
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