Most European stocks push higher; Wall St. lower

Asia markets down as Tokyo hit by yen, Shanghai rallies

New York (AFP) - Most European stock markets rose Monday as traders reacted positively to solid inflation data out of China and a rebound in oil prices, with Italian banking shares racing higher.

But shares in the US retreated ahead of a corporate earnings season that is expected to show generally weaker results, while the Nikkei in Tokyo slid on a higher yen.

In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 climbed 0.6 percent and the Paris CAC 40 won 0.2 percent. London's FTSE dipped 0.1 percent.

Oil prices finished modestly higher as the market looked ahead to an April 17 meeting of Doha of major producers that could result in an agreement to cap output to put a floor under crude prices.

Analysts were heartened by data showing the first increase in Chinese producer prices (PPI) in two and a half years in February, suggesting deflationary pressures are easing.

"Deflation is our top macroeconomic concern and today's PPI offers signs of relief," said analysts with ANZ Research in a note.

Meanwhile investors in Italy pushed up bank shares on expectations that the government would create two funds to help struggling banks.

Shares in Banca Populare rocketed 10.3 percent higher, while Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena jumped 9.8 percent.

Larger banks like Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit climbed higher, gaining 3.1 percent and 5.1 percent respectively.

Milan's FTSE-Mib index advanced 1.3 percent.

But US stocks finished lower, with the S&P 500 retreating 0.3 percent ahead of the kickoff of first-quarter earnings.

S&P Capital IQ expects first-quarter earnings to drop 8.1 percent among S&P 500 companies compared with the year-ago period, with seven of 10 sectors showing a decline.

"Today is just wait-and-see until earnings season gets underway," said Bill Lynch, director of investment at Hinsdale Associates.

In Tokyo the benchmark Nikkei ended 0.4 percent lower as exporters took another hit from the yen's strength. The unit, which is considered a safe bet in times of uncertainty, has climbed about five percent against the greenback this month alone.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 17,556.41 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,041.99 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN: 0.4 percent at 4,833.40 (close)

London - FTSE 100 DOWN 0.1 percent at 6,200.12 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.6 percent at 9,682.99 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 4,312.63 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 2,924.23 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 15,751.13 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.6 percent at 3,033.96 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.4 percent at 20,440.81 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1406 from $1.1398 on Friday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.94 yen from 108.10 yen