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US stocks rise for seven straight months

Stocks on Wall Street rallied in the final hour to avoid their first monthly loss since September 2011.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded in the red for the entire session after Spain confirmed it was again in recession. The drop was small enough to prevent the Dow from falling below the 13,212 mark.

Stocks were also held back by US economic data that showed personal spending slowed in March, while the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago's business barometer fell in April, hitting a 29-month low and missing economists' forecasts.

At the close (8am NZ time), the Dow was down 14.68 points, or 0.1%, at 13,213.63, marking its seventh straight monthly increase, the longest such streak in five years.

The S&P 500 index fell 0.4% to 1397.91 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.7% to 3046.36.

European markets edged mostly lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 falling 0.7% to 257.28, halting a four-session winning streak and giving it a loss of 2.3% for April.

The UK's FTSE 100 index fell 0.7% to 5737.78 and Germany's DAX slipped 0.6% to 6761.19.

France's CAC-40 dropped 1.6% to 3212.80, concluding a weak month in which it fell 6.2%. Italy's FTSE MIB slid 1.3% to 14592.34.

Asian markets were broadly higher on the back of a strong finish last week in the US.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1.7% to 21,094.21, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.8% to 4396.60, Korea's Kospi advanced 0.3% to 1981.99 and Taiwan's Taiex gained 0.3% to 7501.72.

Markets in Japan and Shanghai were closed for holidays.

Crude-oil futures shed 0.4% to $US104.55 a barrel, while gold futures eased less than 0.1% to $US1664.40 an ounce.

The US dollar rose against the euro but lost ground against the yen.

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