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updated: 10/30/2012 6:59 AM

Global markets resilient in face of U.S. superstorm

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Associated Press

LONDON -- Markets recovered their poise Tuesday, though trading remained subdued as Wall Street remained closed for a second day because of the superstorm that's ravaging the East Coast of the U.S.

The New York Stock Exchange's decision to remain shut marks the first time weather has stopped trading for two straight days since 1888.

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Though the impact on the U.S. economy could be hefty, the global financial markets that are open have largely remained calm. Monday's losses in Europe have been more than recovered on Tuesday.

"Markets have put in a robust performance with equity prices appearing to have held up despite the damage that has been inflicted on the North East coast by hurricane Sandy," said Fawad Razaqzada, market strategist at GFT Markets.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.7 percent at 5,835 while Germany's DAX rose 0.9 percent to 7,266. The CAC-40 in France was 0.8 percent higher at 3,436.

There have been strong performances by individual stocks in Europe, not least BP, which announced a big dividend increase and UBS, which revealed plans to lay off 10,000 staff.

Investors will continue to monitor the progress of the storm, which has already claimed the lives of at least 16 people, to assess the financial impact. So far, experts estimate the cost of the damage is around $20 billion, with around half of that insured.

Many investors are looking back into history for guidance. In 2005 for example, Hurricane Katrina, the most devastating hurricane in U.S. history, lowered the country's economic growth by around 1 percent before it bounced back on the back of reconstruction.

"Back then, the U.S. economy was in a stronger condition whereas now, economic growth is on a softer trajectory," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

The uncertainty generated by the storm comes at the start of a big week in the United States. This is the last full week before the Nov. 6 presidential election and culminates Friday with the release of October's employment report, which many analysts think could have an impact on the vote.

Beyond stocks, financial markets were relatively calm.

The euro recouped the previous day's losses to trade 0.4 percent higher at $1.2950 despite a survey from the European Commission showing that economic sentiment in the 17-country eurozone fell to a 38-month low in October. Figures showing Spain's economy shrank a further 0.3 percent in the third quarter meant the country has been in recession for five straight quarters.

Meanwhile, the price of benchmark New York oil was also 13 cents higher at $85.67 a barrel.

Earlier in Asia, trading was more mixed.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1 percent to close at 8,841.98 after the Bank of Japan announced it was expanding a bond-buying program to help spur growth. Some analysts said they were disappointed by the small size of the program.

The announcement followed a report showing Japan's industrial output contracted by 4.1 percent in September from August and 8.1 percent from a year earlier.

Japan's economy has been hobbled by weakness in its turbocharged export sector, which has been hit hard by a slowdown in demand from recession-mired Europe and a persistently strong yen, which makes Japanese products more expensive for overseas buyers.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi index rose 0.4 percent to 1,899.58 but Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.4 percent to 21,428.58. Benchmarks in mainland China, also rose.

In Asia, traders are also waiting for China's once-in-a-decade National Party Congress on Nov. 8, which will usher in a new crop of party leaders.

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