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Global stocks down ahead of US data, earnings

SEOUL/HONG KONG--European stocks were lower after most Asian markets abandoned modest gains Thursday ahead of U.S. economic data and corporate earnings reports.

Stock markets are at lofty heights, making investors nervous a corrective sell-off is looming, particularly as the U.S. Federal Reserve edges toward its first interest rate hike since the Great Recession. The Dow Jones industrial average hit yet another record on Wednesday. The strong performance of Wall Street indexes is at odds with the modest growth prospects of the U.S. economy and the same contradiction also prevails in Europe and parts of Asia.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.4 percent to 6,759.68 and France's CAC 40 dipped 0.5 percent to 4,349.28. Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent to 9,830.25.

U.S. markets were also headed for a lukewarm day. Dow Jones futures inched down 0.2 percent and S&P 500 futures dropped 0.4 percent.

For the rest of the week, earnings reports from Google and IBM are key events on the corporate side. Investors had cheered Intel's report of a 40-percent jump in its bottom line, a sign of recovery in PC demand.

The U.S. government is also set to release economic data including unemployment claims and home construction.

Asian shares were mixed Thursday after the Dow on Wall Street ticked up another record high in response to strong earnings and a positive outlook on the U.S. economy by the Federal Reserve.

Tokyo ended flat, edging down 9.04 points to finish at 15,370.26 as the yen strengthened against the dollar, while Sydney was marginally higher, adding 3.54 points to 5,522.4 and Seoul gained 0.37 percent, or 7.42 points, to 2,020.90.

Shanghai lost 0.57 percent, or 11.69 points, to 2,055.59 while Hong Kong was a touch lower, dipping 2.41 points to 23,520.87.

The mood remained largely buoyant after China said on Wednesday that the world's number two economy and key driver of global growth expanded more than expected in the second quarter of the year.

U.S. shares resumed their uptrend on Wednesday as traders welcomed a report from the Fed that said all 12 economic regions of the country continued to expand in the six weeks to July 7.

Pointing to generally higher consumer spending, with strong auto sales outperforming other retail segments, the bank's Beige Book report is the latest to indicate the world's top economy is getting back on track.

It also comes weeks after the Labor Department said far more jobs were created in June than forecast while unemployment slipped.

On Wall Street the Dow jumped 0.45 percent to a new record, while the S&P 500 gained 0.42 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.22 percent.

The U.S. market was also cheering better-than-expected earnings from chip giant Intel and a “landmark” IBM partnership with Apple.

Gold was at US$1,302.90 by 1040 GMT compared with US$1,298.75 late Wednesday.

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