U.S. markets closed, Japan index surges 2%

Markets in the U.S. are closed for the Presidents' Day holiday, giving investors a day to consider the strong stock index gains in 2013.

Last week, the Standard & Poor's 500 index posted the seventh straight week of gains and the benchmark Dow Jones industrial average less than 200 points off its all-time high hit in October 2007.

In overseas trading, European markets were mostly flat. Germany's DAX 30 index gained 0.2% after reports Europe's largest economy will avoid recession despite the debt crisis that continues to plague the continent.

In Asia, markets were mixed with the benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo surging 2.1% to close at 11,407.87 Monday on further weakening in the value of the yen.

Japan's benchmark stock index jumped Monday after Group of 20 finance officials avoided directly criticizing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's new government for trying to force down the yen.

Currency policy was center stage at the weekend meeting in Moscow of finance ministers and central bankers from the world's 20 biggest advanced and emerging economies. Japan's currency was of particular interest because Abe has repeatedly said that he wants a cheaper yen to help manufacturers compete. Japanese exporters have long been unhappy with the yen's rise due to its status as a safe haven.

On Friday, the Dow rose 8.37 points to close at 13,981.76, the S&P 500 shed 1.59 points to close at 1,519.79 and the Nasdaq composite fell 6.63 points to 3,192.03.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2% to 23,392.93. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5% to 5,060.60. South Korea's Kospi added 0.04% at 1,981.91. Mainland Chinese shares traded higher after a weeklong break for Lunar New Year.

Contributing: Associated Press


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