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World markets drift ahead of US data next week

MUMBAI/HONG KONG--European stock markets were down Friday, while Asian markets took cheer from U.S. unemployment claims falling to an eight-year low. Traders were generally cautious at the end of the week, taking a wait-and-see attitude before another set of U.S. indicators due in coming days, including second quarter GDP.

In London, the FTSE 100 index slipped 0.1 percent to 6,812.27 while Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent to 9,766.57. The CAC-40 in France dropped 0.7 percent to 4,377.80.

Futures indicated caution would prevail on Wall Street, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both down 0.1 percent.

Investors have been on edge since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed last week over a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people onboard. That has raised the possibility of aggressive sanctions against Russia, a major energy producer with close economic ties to Europe.

“The U.S. accusing Russia of planning to arm the separatist movement could keep risk assets contained, notably ahead of the weekend,” said Chris Weston, a market strategist at IG Group.

Many traders are waiting for U.S. economic data due next week.

Weston said that the estimate of U.S. second-quarter GDP, due Wednesday, would show the world's largest economy picking up to growth of 2.9 percent. A meeting of the Federal Reserve is set for the same day and inflation numbers are due Thursday.

Earlier in Asia, positive sentiment was partially fueled by favorable U.S. jobs data indicating that the world's largest economy is continuing to recover. U.S. unemployment claims fell to an eight-year low, declining by 19,000 to 284,000. An improvement in China's manufacturing reported the day before also continued to bolster Asian stocks markets.

Asian Stocks Mostly Rise

Asian markets mostly rose Friday following another record close on Wall Street, while the euro dug in against the dollar and yen after rebounding from multi-month lows.

Investors were still upbeat after Thursday's strong manufacturing data from China as well as the eurozone, which lifted hopes for the global economy.

Tokyo rallied 1.13 percent, or 173.45 points, to a six-month high of 15,457.87 thanks to a weakening yen, while Seoul rose 0.36 percent, or 7.23 points, to close at 2,033.85. Shanghai added 1.02 percent, or 21.55 points, to 2,126.61 and Hong Kong rose 0.31 percent, or 74.51 points, to 24,216.01.

However, Sydney was a touch lower, dipping 4.3 points to 5,583.5 after hitting six-year highs in the week.

Regional traders were still in an upbeat mood after HSBC said Thursday that its index of manufacturing activity in China had hit an 18-month high, the latest sign of an uptick in the Asian economic giant.

In New York the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high for the second straight session after data showed new claims for U.S. unemployment insurance slid to an eight-year low last week.

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