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US: Stocks hit new records, but euro slides on Spanish clash

[NEW YORK] Global stocks mostly rose on Monday following strong economic data, with US indices notching fresh records, while the euro slid following the police crackdown on the banned Catalonia independence referendum.

Data showed eurozone unemployment held steady at an eight-year low in August, while manufacturing reports in both the US and Japan came in at multi-year peaks.

"Evidence continues to mount that the damage inflicted on the national economy by hurricanes Harvey and Irma will be very modest," Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said after the Institute for Supply Management purchasing managers index for US manufacturing hit a 13-year high.

"The big picture," Mr Shepherdson added, "is one of broad, sustained strength."

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Analysts were bullish about third-quarter US earnings season, which kicks off in earnest in about 10 days. Companies in the S&P 500 are projected to report a five percent year-over-year gain in operating earnings-per-share (EPS), according to CFRA Research.

All three US indices ended at records, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.7 per cent to 22,557.60.

Analysts said sentiment was not affected by the mass shooting at a Las Vegas hotel that resulted in at least 58 fatalities. However, MGM Resorts, which owns the hotel, fell 5.6 per cent.

Equity markets in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo all gained.


But Spain's IBEX index fell 1.2 per cent and the euro dropped against the dollar following the upheaval in the country.

"Traders are clearly a little concerned about the impact of the (Catalan) vote, not to mention how the situation was handled by the Spanish authorities," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

Spain will do "everything within the law" to prevent Catalonia from declaring independence, Justice Minister Rafael Catala said on Monday, a day after Catalonia's regional government declared victory in a banned secession referendum.

"The chaos in Catalonia yesterday on the back of the referendum on independence has sent the Spanish stock market lower," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

"Violent clashes between the police and voters has spooked investors, and money is flowing out of the country on account of it.

"Thanks to the heavy-handed response from Madrid, the Catalonian question has now become even more divisive." Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst, said uncertainty in Spain along with questions about German governance following last week's mixed election outcome for Chancellor Angela Merkel raised questions about whether the European Central Bank would move ahead with plans to taper monetary stimulus.

A pause on that plan, "if realised, would leave the euro, the year's best performing major currency, vulnerable to further losses over the short run," Mr Manimbo said.