World stocks slightly lower ahead of US holiday

AP and AFP

AMSTERDAM/HONG KONG–World stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday after a lull in Wall Street’s record-breaking run ahead of a U.S. holiday. U.S. stocks have enjoyed seven weeks of gains, driven by the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy, signs of gradual improvement in the economy and rising company profits. But trading activity is thinning out this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday. IG Markets analyst David Madden said markets are also still absorbing the implications of Iran’s deal with western governments on nuclear development — including a lower, more stable oil price. “Today traders are dealing with the fallout of the agreement and locking in their profits,” he said. “Airlines are continuing to soar.” By mid-session in European trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.4 percent at 6,694.85. Germany’s DAX was down fractionally at 9,299.6 and France’s CAC-40 was 0.2 percent lower at 4,291.08. U.S. shares ended little changed Monday after the Dow and S&P 500 breached key milestones last week. The Dow — which broke 16,000 for the first time Thursday — ended up 0.05 percent at another record, while the S&P 500 dipped 0.13 percent but remained above the 1,800 level it passed on Friday.

The Nasdaq inched up 0.07 percent to 3,994.57 but was unable to hold its intraday levels above 4,000, which it hit for the first time since the 2000 dotcom bust. Wall Street was expected to open flat, with Dow and S&P 500 futures roughly unchanged.

In Asia, markets were mixed on Tuesday following a muted lead from Wall Street, while Tokyo slipped on profit-taking as the yen regained some of the previous day’s losses against the dollar. Tokyo eased 0.67 percent, or 103.89 points to 15,515.24, Sydney ended flat, edging up 4.2 points to 5,357.0, and Seoul added 0.33 percent, or 6.66 points, to close at 2,022.64. Hong Kong closed flat, dipping 3.17 points to 23,681.28 and Shanghai fell 0.14 percent, or 3.04 points, to 2,183.07. Japan’s Nikkei retreated after closing Monday at a six-month high thanks to the yen’s fall against the dollar. “The dollar’s levels are key to predicting the Nikkei, but even the smallest pause in the yen-weakening trend we’ve seen will invite profit-taking after the Nikkei’s recent run-up,” Kenichi Hirano, market analyst at Tachibana Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.