TOKYO (AP) — World stock markets stabilized in European trading hours on Thursday after falling globally in reaction to weak U.S. economic figures.
KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose almost 0.1 percent to 6,949.76 while France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.2 percent to 5,031.44. Germany’s DAX edged up 0.3 percent to 11,467.85. Tokyo’s benchmark dived nearly 3 percent, however, and Wall Street appeared set for a weak start. The Dow and S&P 500 futures were each down 0.3 percent.
U.S. BLUES: A severe winter, weak exports and cutbacks in oil and gas drilling sapped economic growth to a feeble 0.2 percent in January-March, the poorest performance in a year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Markets registered their disappointment, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 falling 0.4 percent on Wednesday and losses feeding into Asian trading hours.
THE QUOTE: “Equities are unwinding across the globe as growth fears resurface following an alarming” report on the U.S. economy, Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG, said in a commentary. “Some analysts have gone as far as saying the U.S. recovery has ground to a halt.”
JAPAN, EUROPE DATA: Japan reported that its industrial output slipped 1.2 percent in March from the year before, not as bad as expected. As a result, the central bank kept its ultra-loose monetary policy intact despite expectations for stimulus. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda remains upbeat about the prospects for a “moderate recovery,” despite halting progress toward his 2 percent inflation goal.
In the 19-country eurozone, the inflation rate edged up from minus 0.1 percent to zero in April, ending a four-month spell of falling consumer prices. The move suggests the risks of a long-term drop in prices, called deflation, are easing.
EARNINGS: Corporate earnings reports were mixed, with good figures from Shell and Airbus but a disappointing performance from Nokia. The Finnish technology company saw its shares plummet 9 percent after it said the profitability at its main networks division was not as good as hoped.
Investors will later in the day look for results in the U.S. from Exxon Mobil and Visa, among others.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 slid 2.7 percent to 19,520.01 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.9 percent to 28,133.00. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.7 percent to 2,127.17 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.8 percent to 5,790.00. Markets in Taiwan, mainland China and Southeast Asia also fell.
CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.1202 from $1.1117 on Wednesday, the currency’s highest level against the dollar in almost two months. The dollar slipped to 118.90 yen from 119.01 yen.
ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil was up 59 cents at $59.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $1.52 to $58.58 a barrel on Wednesday.
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