Global stocks mixed, Asia higher after S&P record

AP and AFP

TOKYO/HONG KONG — Global shares were mixed Wednesday after the latest record close for the Standard & Poor’s 500, with Europe off to a shaky start despite a strong day in Asia. In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 0.2 percent to 9,573.65 and France’s CAC-40 slipped 0.2 percent to 4,385.83. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.1 percent lower to 6,822.09. Wall Street was set to open higher. Dow and Standard & Poor’s 500 futures were each up 0.1 percent. On Monday, the S&P briefly rose past the 2,000-point mark and closed at a second record high in a week. The S&P 500’s 0.1 percent gain to a record close of 2,000.02 on Tuesday, supported by strong U.S. consumer confidence data, provided upward momentum for Asian markets ahead of the release of key economic data in Japan later this week. Investors remain cautious over the outlook for China and Japan, the world’s second and third-largest economies. “There is more noise about weak lending in August, which would mean the second straight month of poor credit expansion” in China, Dariusz Kowalczyk of Credit Agricole said in a research note. “This bodes ill for third-quarter growth, given that government stimulus is directed mainly through infrastructure spending, which is funded by lending.” Asian markets mostly ticked higher Wednesday following another record close on Wall Street as investors welcomed more upbeat data indicating the U.S. economy is back on track. The positive U.S. figures helped the dollar consolidate against the yen at a seven-month high, while it was at an 11-month peak against the euro following disappointing German data. Tokyo ended marginally stronger, adding 13.60 points to 15,534.82, Sydney gained 0.24 percent, or 13.58 points, to 5,651.2 and Seoul added 0.33 percent, or 6.88 points, to 2,074.93.

Shanghai put on 0.11 percent, or 2.36 points, to end at 2,209.47 but Hong Kong closed 0.62 percent, or 155.75 points, lower at 24,918.75 after hitting a six-year high on Monday. In Asia on Wednesday the greenback bought 104.11 yen in the morning — compared with 104.05 yen in New York — but profit-takers led it lower to 103.90 yen in the afternoon. “It seems as though the (Federal Reserve’s policy committee) is running out of arguments to retain its highly accommodative policy stance amid the ongoing improvements in the world’s largest economy,” said David Song of DailyFX. The U.S. unit broke 104 yen on Monday in response to comments from Fed chief Janet Yellen which some analysts took as an indication of a move towards an interest rate rise sooner than later. Focus will now turn to the release of revised U.S. second-quarter economic growth data on Thursday.

The euro continued to drop on news that German business confidence was at its lowest since July 2013, while European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi hinted at the weekend he could be open to monetary easing measures to lift the eurozone. Gold traded at US$1,284.54 an ounce at 1120 GMT, from US$1,289.25 late Tuesday.