German gov't breakthrough fails to ignite markets

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An investor speaks in front of the stock price monitor at a private securities company Wednesday Nov. 27, 2013 in Shanghai, China. Asian stocks were muted Wednesday as funds switched to better performing markets and trading thinned out ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. (AP Photo)

LONDON (AP) — Markets were subdued Wednesday ahead of a run of U.S. economic data that's due to be released before traders on Wall Street start packing up for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats have agreed the outlines of a "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats after two months of negotiations has helped shore up sentiment in the markets, particularly in Europe.

"The deal has been expected ever since the election, which is why the response has only been minimal, but the negotiations have really dragged on," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.

Germany's DAX was up 0.2 percent at 9,309 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.1 percent to 4,282. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.1 percent higher at 6,641.

Wall Street was poised for a flat opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent.

Sentiment has been positive of late, particularly in the U.S., with the Nasdaq composite index the latest stock index to push through a key hurdle. On Tuesday, it closed above 4,000 for the first time since the end of the dot-com boom in 2000.

The Nasdaq's milestone followed two other round-number moments last week. The Standard & Poor's 500 closed above 1,800 for the first time and the Dow Jones industrial average finished above 16,000.

The focus later in the U.S. will be on a raft of data — much of which has been pushed forward — ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving break. These include weekly jobless claims and durable goods orders.

"Ultimately the point to bear in mind is that equity markets are looking toppy and the temptation to take some money off the table .... is wholly understandable," said Patrick Latchford at Monex Capital Markets.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.4 percent at 15,449.63 but Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.5 percent to 23,806.35. China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.8 percent to 2,201.07 and South Korea's Kospi was up 0.3 percent at 2,028.81.

Thailand's stock index climbed 0.9 percent after the central bank unexpectedly cut its policy interest rate by a quarter percentage point as escalating protests to topple the government add to pressure on the economy.

Elsewhere, the euro continued to recoup some recent losses, trading 0.2 percent higher at $1.3600. The dollar meanwhile was 0.5 percent higher at 101.77 yen.