AP and AFP
TOKYO/HONG KONG–Global stock markets were muted Thursday ahead of U.S. economic data and possible policy announcements from Japan.
France’s CAC-40 slipped 0.4 percent to 4,377.14 in early European trading, while Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.2 percent to 6,818.81. Germany’s DAX fell 0.6 percent to 9,508.15. Wall Street was set to retreat, with Dow futures down 0.1. S&P 500 futures were off 0.2 percent.
Asia’s markets mostly fell Thursday, with investors unable to build on the previous day’s advances after the S&P on Wall Street notched up another record. With few catalysts to drive trade the dollar retreated from seven-month highs against the yen, while the euro clawed back some losses after Germany dampened speculation that the European Central Bank (ECB) would unveil new easing policies. Australian flag-carrier Qantas was the standout performer, surging almost 7 percent on hopes for the next 12 months after it announced record annual losses of US$2.65 billion. Tokyo fell 0.48 percent, or 74.96 points, to 15,459.86, Sydney lost 0.47 percent, or 26.78 points, to close lower at 5,624.4 and Seoul ended flat, edging up 0.83 points to 2,075.76. Shanghai gave up 0.62 percent, or 13.65 points, to end at 2,195.82 while Hong Kong lost 0.71 percent, or 177.75 points, to 24,741.00. Global markets are on a general uptrend as the U.S. economy shows regular signs of getting back on track, in turn sending Wall Street to record highs. With focus turning to the release of revised U.S. economic growth data for April-June, trade was muted in new York Wednesday, but still positive. The S&P, which ended above 2,000 for the first time Tuesday, ticked up 0.10 points to another record, while the Dow edged 0.09-percent higher. The Nasdaq eased a fraction but still sits at a 14-year high. Qantas Rallies Despite Record Loss The single currency picked up Wednesday from seven-month lows against the dollar after Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble downplayed the prospect of the ECB announcing fresh measures to protect the eurozone economy. The euro had taken a hit at the start of the week, approaching a one-year low against the dollar, after ECB head Mario Draghi hinted the bank could unveil new steps to fend off deflation. Draghi said last week the bank “will use all available instruments needed to ensure price stability over the medium term.” But Schaeuble said markets “over-interpreted” the remarks. Shares in Qantas jumped 6.95 percent despite the airline announcing a huge loss in the year to June blamed on a write-down of its ageing international fleet.