London, Frankfurt stock markets hit 2009 peaks

LONDON: European equities rallied on Tuesday, as London and Frankfurt struck 2009 peaks in thin trade, with investors upbeat before new year holidays and after similar highs overnight on Wall Street, analysts said.

In morning deals, the British capital's benchmark FTSE 100 index leapt to 5,441.85 points -- which was last seen in early September 2008.

The FTSE later stood at 5,437.33 points, gaining 0.63 percent from last Thursday, after holiday closures on Friday and Monday.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Frankfurt's DAX 30 surged to 6,019.48 points -- last witnessed in September 2008. The DAX, which had also struck a 2009 closing peak on Monday, later stood up 0.23 percent at 6,017.21 points.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index of top French shares rose 0.47 percent to 3,965.79 points.

"Volumes are expected to be relatively low with many taking an extended break into the New Year," said IG Index analyst Cameron Peacock in London.

"This could add to overall levels of volatility but at least for the time being, the market seems intent on remaining in a bullish mood."

Both the French and German markets had resumed trading on Monday after the festive holiday break.

"Traders in London will be returning to their desks well aware that both the Dow and the DAX closed last night at fresh highs for the year," added Peacock.

"With this in mind, a degree of catch-up seems inevitable for the FTSE although beyond this rather basic driver, the fundamentals do seem to be rather thin on the ground with very little in the way of corporate news."

Mining companies spurred markets higher on Tuesday, lifted by rising prices for metals.

On the downside, however, the aviation sector was dented in the wake of an alleged attempt last week to set off an explosive device abaord a US passenger plane.

Across the Atlantic on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained just 0.26 percent to finish at 10,547.08 -- which was still the highest level since early October 2008.

Airline stocks were major decliners, after an alleged attempt last Friday to blow up an Amsterdam-Detroit flight. Before the US market close, Al-Qaeda claimed the botched attack against the Northwest Airlines plane.

"With Wall Street suffering overnight jitters on the back of the attempted terrorist attack in Detroit it will be interesting to see how London fares," said ETX Capital trader Manoj Ladwa on Tuesday.

This week, meanwhile, many global markets face holiday-shortened trade due to year-end celebrations.

In Asia on Tuesday, Japanese stocks edged up to a fresh four-month high, supported by optimism about the economic outlook, but many investors were away as trading winds down for the year.

A weaker yen also gave a boost to exporters, such as carmarkers Toyota and Nissan. Shares in Japan Airlines fell sharply on worries that the carrier may seek bankruptcy protection.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei-225 index rose by just 0.04 percent to 10,638.06 points, the highest finish since August 26 and within striking distance of its 2009 high.