Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets swung higher Friday after a survey showed an improvement in China’s manufacturing, offsetting gloom from a sharp drop in Japanese business confidence.
European stocks rose on the heels of two crucial agreements reached Thursday by European Union finance ministers: a compromise to create a single supervisor for banks and an agreement to give Greece desperately needed bailout funds.
Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 5,940.86. Germany’s DAX added 0.4 percent to 7,612.93. France’s CAC-40 gained 0.2 percent to 3,651.22.
Wall Street shares headed for a higher opening. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.4 percent to 13,143 and S&P 500 futures advanced 0.4 percent to 1,418.40.
Earlier Friday, HSBC Corp. released its preliminary China Purchasing Managers’ Index for December, which rose to a 14-month high of 50.9. That was an improvement from November’s reading of 50.5. Numbers above 50 represent an expansion of manufacturing.
“I think it adds further encouragement that China is moving in the right direction,” said Andrew Sullivan, a self-employed analyst based in Hong Kong. “But we are also seeing a lot of money sitting on the sidelines at the end of the year, and people want to get it invested. In previous years, we’ve seen good rallies around the end of the year.”
The preliminary version of the HSBC index is based on responses from 75 to 80 percent of the 420 companies surveyed each month. The full report is due out at the end of the month.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng pulled out of negative territory to advance 0.7 percent to 22,605.9. Mainland Chinese shares posted sharp gains, with the Shanghai Composite Index surging 4.3 percent to 2,150.63. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index shot up 4.2 percent to 816.19.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index sank slightly following the release of a Bank of Japan survey which showed large Japanese manufacturers are more pessimistic about business conditions. The “tankan” index for the December quarter dropped from September’s minus three to minus 12, much worse than expected.
The benchmark in Tokyo fell 0.1 percent to close at 9,737.56, a day after closing at an eight-month high. A weakening yen helped export shares, with Japan’s Fujitsu Ltd. surging 6.8 percent and Sharp Corp. jumping 7.6 percent.
South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.4 percent to 1,995.04. Benchmarks in Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan also fell. Australia’s S&P/ASX was nearly unchanged at 4,583.10.
Wall Street stocks slid Thursday after investors registered their dismay at an apparent lack of progress during budget talks in Washington between President Barack Obama and key Republican lawmakers.
A deal must be reached by the end of the year to avoid what has been dubbed the “fiscal cliff” — hundreds of billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts and tax increases that could plunge the world’s largest economy back into recession.
Benchmark crude was up 90 cents to $86.79 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 88 cents to end at $85.89 per barrel in New York on Thursday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3083 from $1.3075 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 83.76 from 83.58 on expectations that Sunday’s parliamentary election will usher in a government committed to a weak currency.
The U.S. Federal Reserve’s move earlier this week to stimulate the slow-growing U.S. economy by spending $85 billion a month to help keep interest rates low also has helped weaken the dollar against other currencies.
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NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.