JP Morgan, US data shore up markets

PAN PYLAS, AP Business Writer

LONDON -- Upbeat earnings from JP Morgan Chase & Co. and a strong U.S. consumer confidence survey helped shore up markets Friday, though investors remained cautious after buying up stocks aggressively the previous day.

JP Morgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, reported a record quarterly profit of $5.7 billion for the July-to-September period, up 34 percent from the same period a year ago. Earnings were $1.40 per share, far exceeding the $1.21 consensus in the markets.

There was further positive news when the University of Michigan reported that its main index of consumer confidence spiked to a five-year high of 83.1 in October from 78.3 last month.

"Consumer confidence is being supported by a strong equity market and signs of a bottom in housing," said Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The two pieces of news gave markets in the U.S. some momentum but those in Europe remained flat-footed, a day after they recorded strong gains on upbeat U.S. jobs markets.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.1 percent at 5,822 while Germany's DAX was more or less unchanged at 7,283. The CAC-40 in France was 0.1 percent higher at 3,416.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.5 percent at 13,388 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 1,437.

Trading was also fairly subdued in other markets, with the euro up 0.3 percent at $1.2972 and the benchmark oil price 39 cents higher at $92.46 a barrel.

Earlier in Asia, trading was also confined to narrow ranges.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index ended a bad week with another 0.2 percent decline to 8,534.12. Telephone company Softbank led the way lower after it plunged 16.9 percent on news that it is in talks to take a substantial stake in U.S. carrier Sprint Nextel Corp.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.7 percent to 21,136.43 and South Korea's Kospi was flat at 1,933.26.