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European shares mixed, Asia gains after Dow tops 18,000 for the 1st time; Chinese markets fall

TOKYO – Shares were mixed in early European trading Wednesday after the Dow Jones industrial average surpassed 18,000 to hit a new high. Asian shares were mostly higher, though Chinese markets were mixed in volatile trading after Shanghai’s benchmark fell on Tuesday.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE rose 0.3 per cent to 6,598.18, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.6 per cent to 9,922.11. Wall Street looked set for further gains after Tuesday’s record high, with Dow futures up 0.1 per cent and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.03 per cent.

WALL STREET’S DAY: The Dow’s rise to a record-high 18,024.17 on Tuesday, spurred by Commerce Department data showing that the economy grew at a 5 per cent annual rate in July-September, carried over into global markets on Wednesday.

THE QUOTE: “This is going to end up being a bit better of a year for stocks and bonds than most people thought coming in,” said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management. “The economy caught some steam and it’s able to stand up with its own two feet.”

THE DAY IN ASIA: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.2 per cent to 17,854.23 as the Japanese yen slipped against the U.S. dollar. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 per cent to 1,946.61 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3 per cent to 5,394.50. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.1 per cent higher to 23,349.34, while shares in Southeast Asia also were mostly higher. But the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 2.0 per cent to 2,972.53.

CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar was trading at 120.42 Japanese yen, down from its close Tuesday of 120.65. The euro rose to $1.2207 from $1.2182 late Tuesday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 42 cents to $56.70 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 1.86 on Wednesday to $57.12. The price has fallen to about half its peak of $107 a barrel in June due to strong supplies and weaker global demand.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 62 cents to $61.07.

HOLIDAYS: U.S. and European markets will close early Wednesday ahead of the Christmas holiday.

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AP Business Writer Alex Veiga in Los Angeles contributed to this report.