Wall St poised for trading as Sandy cost tallied

European's benchmark equity index posted a gain for the day as corporate earnings including from UBS and Deutsche Bank exceeded expectations, providing some relief from concern about the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the global economic slowdown.

Wall Street remained closed for a second day as officials began tallying the destruction inflicted by Sandy on the East Coast of the US and is expected to have caused more than US$20 billion in damage. US Treasury markets were also closed today.

The superstorm ravaged New York City, where it killed 10 people, sparked a fire that razed 80 homes in Queens, flooded tunnels of the biggest US transit system and left 750,000 customers without power, including the lower third of Manhattan, according to Bloomberg News. US airlines grounded about 12,500 flights.

Dozens of US companies delayed the release of quarterly results because of Sandy.

US stock and bond markets are expected to reopen tomorrow (tonight NZ time).

NYSE Euronext said the New York Stock Exchange would open, although it will switch to fully electronic trading if necessary, while Nasdaq Stock Market will also be operating on Wednesday, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A key challenge will be for workers to get to their desks as the subway system is expected to be shut for another four to five days.

Index futures will reopen at 7pm Eastern Time for the overnight session during European and Asian hours, closing again at 9.15am Wednesday morning, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, economic data provided good news on the American housing market. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities climbed 2 per cent, the biggest year-to-year gain since July 2010 and surpassing economists' expectations. The index gained 1.2 per cent the prior month.

"The housing recovery has had modest momentum," Anika Khan, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina, a subsidiary of the largest US mortgage lender, told Bloomberg News. "We still are looking for housing improvement and think that trend will continue."

Europe's Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.9 per cent advance from the previous close. National benchmark stock indexes also rose in the UK, France and Germany, gaining 1 per cent, 1.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.

Better-than-expected earnings from Deutsche Bank, UBS and BP helped pace the gains. UBS confirmed a plan to slash 10,000 jobs, bolstering its shares. BP lifted its dividend.

Italy managed to draw solid demand for its bond auctions today, selling a total of 7 billion euros of five- and 10-year notes.

But there was a clear reminder of the impact of the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone. German unemployment climbed twice as much as expected in October, pushing the jobless rate up for the first time in three years.

- BusinessDesk

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