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Dec 29, 2014 7:13 AM

Stocks mixed amid China growth hopes, Greece woes

The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) Global stocks were mixed on Monday after a report said China will change banking rules, apparently to boost lending and economic growth, while oil prices rebounded. European shares underperformed as Greece was headed for early elections that could endanger its bailout program.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC-40 fell 0.4 percent to 4,280.37, while Germany's DAX declined 0.7 percent to 9,854.04, as trading resumed following a four-day break for Christmas. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.1 percent at 6,618.34. Wall Street looked set for a weaker open, with Dow futures down 0.2 percent and Standard & Poor's 500 futures 0.1 percent lower.

ASIA'S DAY: Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 1.8 percent to 23,761.29 points and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 3,168.02. India's Sensex rose 0.7 percent to 27,439.68. Sydney, Singapore and Manila also rose. South Korea's Kospi was off 1 percent at 1,927.86.

CHINESE BANKING: China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday that regulators will change accounting rules for bank deposits to free up more money for lending. That could help to boost economic growth that slumped to a five-year low in the latest quarter. The report came after government data on Saturday showed profits for China's biggest industrial companies fell 4.2 percent in November from a year earlier, accelerating from the previous month's 2.1 percent decline. Stocks for China's state-owned banks rose on expectations of higher interest income from bigger lending.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Asian equities are off to a great start to the week, with investors growing increasingly optimistic about China deploying stimulus. Chinese equities are leading the way, with solid gains for the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite," strategist Stan Shamu of IG Markets said in a report.

GREEK JITTERS: News that Greece will hold early general elections this month stoked concerns over the country's financial future. An opposition party that is against the terms of the country's bailout program is leading in the polls, and investors worry it will seek changes if it wins the election. The Athens exchange was down 7 percent, having fallen as much as 11 percent earlier.

RUBLE TROUBLES: Russia's currency was also in focus, falling 5 percent on Monday after a rally last week. Russian monetary officials have made stabilizing the currency a priority amid slumping oil revenues and unease about the country's economic outlook. Mizuho Bank warned in a report that this "may not be the end of the troubles" for the Russian economy.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 75 cents to $55.48 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the contract plunged $1.11 to settle at $54.73.

CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 120.44 yen from Friday's 120.35. The euro edged down to $1.2192 from Friday's $1.2205.


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