As U.S. Markets Closed on MLK Day, Asia Sputters, Europe in Limbo

Jon C. Ogg

The U.S. markets were closed on Monday, January 20, in observance of Martin Luther King Day. Europe and Asia, however, were not closed. What was seen on Monday was a down China and Japan, with India up on a recovery trade. China’s gross domestic product turned in growth of 7.7% in the fourth quarter of 2013, down slightly from the 7.8% in the third quarter but up marginally from expectations. Slower credit and soft infrastructure spending were to blame on the small drop.

The Shanghai Composite Stock Market Index lost 0.7%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index lost 0.9%. This should put the iShares China Large Cap (NYSEMKT: FXI) down close to 0.9% for Tuesday, assuming the local market is static on Tuesday, as it tracks large-cap Chinese equities that trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed down almost 93 points, or -0.6%, at 15,641.68. That should put the iShares MSCI Japan (NYSEMKT: EWJ) down by close to the same amount, and the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity (NYSEMKT: DXJ) close to the same amount on Tuesday, assuming the Nikkei is flat on Tuesday, as it tracks the Japanese markets without the currency fluctuations from the dollar-yen relationship.

In India, the S&P BSE SENSEX rose 0.67% to 21,205.05, and this was after two days of selling. This should put the WisdomTree India Earnings (NYSENKT: EPI) up close to 0.7% as well, assuming Tuesday is static. There is also the closed-end India Fund Inc. (NYSE: IFN), although this closed-end mutual fund trades at close to an 11% discount to its net asset value.

European markets were hardly worth noting on Monday. It is as if the Europeans did not want to rock the boat without American stocks to support the trends of the day in Europe. These were the late-day trading prices ahead of their respective closing bells in Europe:

  • FTSE 100 6,831.74 (+2.44, +0.04%)
  • DAX 9,708.57 (-34.39 or -0.35%)
  • CAC 40 4,321.28 (-6.22 or -0.14%)
  • EURO STOXX 50 Index 3,149.55 (-4.55 or -0.14%)

This is not enough of a change to bother evaluating European stock ETFs that trade in New York. The markets will just have to wait to see if Europe in more volatile on Tuesday.