TOKYO (AP) — Shares were mostly higher in Europe and Asia on Thursday after crude oil prices rebounded from an overnight sell-off and Japan reported stronger-than-expected exports in March. Easing tensions over North Korea helped brighten the mood after weeks of jitters over the U.S. response to Pyongyang’s missile tests and nuclear weapons program.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE 100 was steady at 7,116.71 in early trading while the CAC 40 in France jumped 0.6 percent to 5,031.49. Germany’s DAX was steady at 12,020.15. Dow futures gained 0.2 percent to 20,379.00 and S&P 500 futures also were up 0.2 percent at 2,338.60, suggesting an upbeat start to Thursday’s trading.
OIL PRICES: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 30 cents to $51.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.97, or 3.8 percent overnight, to $50.44 a barrel after the Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude inventories fell less than expected last week. The EIA said stockpiles are larger than normal for this time of year. Brent crude, used to price international oils, jumped 29 cents to $53.22 a barrel. It fell $1.96, or 3.6 percent, to $52.93 per barrel in London.
JAPAN TRADE: Japan’s exports rose at a faster-than-expected 12 percent pace in March, while imports jumped nearly 16 percent from a year earlier. A revival of demand in China helped push exports to that country up 16.4 percent from the year before to 1.3 trillion yen ($11 billion), while exports to the U.S. climbed 3.5 percent to 1.35 trillion yen ($12 billion).
ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “The upshot is that net trade should have provided another boost to Q1 GDP growth,” Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.
NORTH KOREA FACTOR: President Donald Trump’s recent statement that the U.S. wants peace followed by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s message to North Korea on Wednessday that, “We’re not trying to pick a fight” appeared to help take the edge off of recent worries over brewing tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was unchanged at 18,430.49 and the Kospi in South Korea rose 0.5 percent to 2,149.15. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 0.9 percent to 24,029.53 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 advanced 0.3 percent to 5,821.40. The Shanghai Composite index edged less than 0.1 percent higher to 3,172.10 and Southeast Asian benchmarks were higher.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.97 yen from 108.86 yen. The euro rose to $1.0745 from $1.0712.
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