Stocks boosted by LinkedIn initial offering splash

May 20, 2011 - 6:28 AM
Wall Street

Traders work on the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, May 19, 2011 at the New York Stock Exchange. LinkedIn, based in Mountain View, Calif., an internet-based social networking rolodex for business people, listed at the exchange for the first time Thursday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

LONDON (AP) — An impressive initial stock offering from professional networking site LinkedIn supported markets Friday despite concerns about the pace of the U.S. economic recovery.

With little in the way of economic news later, analysts said markets may be heading for modest gains at the end of the week when sentiment in stock markets has rebounded from sizable declines.

Investors have been worrying about a slowdown in the global recovery, with the U.S. economy showing distinct signs of running out of steam.

However, on Thursday, a stable listing of commodities giant Glencore PLC and a doubling in the share price of LinkedIn helped shore up confidence.

"Whether these events actually mark a turning point in what has been a rather benign period for new listings remains to be seen although after such an absence and generally poor yields on holding cash, it can be of little surprise that the appetite was there to start with," said Chris Weston, an institutional trader at IG Markets.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.6 percent at 5,994 while Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 7,318. The CAC-40 in France was 0.3 percent higher at 4,039.

Wall Street was poised for a fairly steady opening — Dow futures were flat at 12,590 as were the broader Standard & Poor's 500 futures at 1,342.

In the currency markets, the euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.43.

With the U.S. unemployment rate still relatively high at 9 percent, investors doubt that the U.S. Federal Reserve will be raising interest rates anytime soon. Though the minutes to the last meeting, published Wednesday, showed rate-setters discussing how to end the current super-loose policy environment there are few indications that rates will be rising in the next few months.

That's not the case in the eurozone, where the European Central Bank has already lifted borrowing costs and is expected to do so again in July. The differing policy approaches are the main reason why the euro remains relatively well-supported in the markets despite worries over Europe's debt crisis.

"Weak U.S. data has reasserted the view that U.S. monetary policy will have to remain accommodative for many months while price data from the eurozone has reasserted the risk that the ECB could be hiking rates again as soon as July," said Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank International. "The price of the euro will continue to balance both positive and negative attributes of monetary union."

Earlier in Asia, the yen was left unmoved by the Bank of Japan's decision to keep its key interest rate unchanged at virtually zero in a bid to shore up the economy came as no surprise as at all.

The financial authorities are trying to get the Japanese economy back on track after figures Thursday confirmed it had slipped back into recession in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which washed away some 500 factories that produce key parts for Japan's manufacturing industries.

By late morning London time, the dollar was 0.2 percent lower at 81.53 yen while Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed 0.1 percent lower at 9,607.08.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi gained 0.8 percent to 2,111.50 but. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5 percent at 4,732.20.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was nearly 0.2 percent higher at 23,199.39 but mainland Chinese shares edged lower as investors fretted over the economic outlook and watched for possible new, anti-inflation tightening measures by the country's central banks.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was narrowly down at 2,858.46, while the Shenzhen Composite Index of China's smaller, second exchange fell 0.4 percent to 1,192.66.

The relative stability in stock markets over the past few days has also helped commodity prices, which have had a fairly torrid time. Benchmark crude for June delivery, for example, was up $1.07 at $100 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.