World stock markets mixed after Wall Street gives little direction

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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BANGKOK, Thailand — World stocks were mixed Thursday amid mild profit-taking in Tokyo and a muted finish on Wall Street as investors absorbed bad news about Europe’s debt problems and the U.S. economy.

Stock markets hovered in a narrow range as investors found little reason to drive the market in a definitive direction. Worries about Spain’s debt problems and weaker-than-expected U.S. housing data weighed on sentiment, while Chinese shares advanced after a three-day holiday.

Oil prices, meanwhile, fell below US$77 a barrel as investor confidence wanes that a three-week rally will continue amid signs of weak U.S. crude demand. The dollar fell against the yen and gained versus the euro.

As European trading got underway, Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.4 per cent, Germany’s DAX shed 0.3 per cent and France’s CAC-40 slipped 0.1 per cent. Futures pointed to modest losses on Wall Street with Dow futures off 35 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 10,368.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average dropped 67.75 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 9,999.40 as investors moved to lock in gains from Wednesday’s 1.8 per cent jump, when the index finished above the key 10,000 level for the first time in almost a month.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.7 per cent to 4,527.30 as miners retreated. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.4 per cent to 2,575.30 with investors holding back ahead of the launch of Agricultural Bank of China’s mammoth share listing, after a five-day closure for public holidays.

Benchmarks in Singapore and New Zealand were also in negative territory.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4 per cent to 20,138.40. Stocks in Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea rose as well.

Overnight in New York, the Dow Jones industrials rose 0.05 per cent to 10,409.46 after BP’s agreement to put $20 billion into a fund for victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill lifted the stock market off lows. The market began the day by falling on news that home construction and applications for building permits slumped in May.

Spain’s financial problems also led to fresh hand-wringing. The country’s borrowing costs leapt Wednesday, a day after the European Union said Spain would have to make more spending cuts to cut its deficit.

The S&P 500 fell 0.06 per cent to 1,114.61, and the Nasdaq crept up 0.05 per cent to 2,305.93.

In currencies, the dollar weakened to 91.18 yen from 91.37 yen late Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.2281 from $1.2299.

Benchmark crude for July delivery was down 79 cents at $76.88 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 73 cents to settle at $77.67 on Wednesday.

Organizations: Shanghai Composite, Agricultural Bank of China, Dow Jones BP European Union New York Mercantile Exchange

Geographic location: U.S., Spain, Thailand BANGKOK Tokyo Europe Britain Germany France Asia Japan Australia Singapore New Zealand Hong Kong Taiwan Malaysia South Korea New York Gulf of Mexico

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