Global shares mixed on caution after modest US gains

Tokyo: Asian shares fell but European benchmarks edged higher Thursday as caution set in over company earnings reports, recent choppy trading in technology stocks and prospects for more economic stimulus for a world battling a pandemic.

France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5per cent to 5,591.22 and Germany’s DAX added 0.5per cent to 14,004.17. 

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6per cent to 6,548.01. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures inching up less than 0.1per cent to 30,638.5. S&P 500 futures were also up by nearly 0.1per cent, at 3,826.62. 

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Also on market players’ minds is the global vaccine rollout, which is becoming more organised in the U.S., but has yet to play out in much of Asia, except for China, where the pandemic started. 

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 1.1per cent to finish at 28,341.95, while South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.4per cent to 3,087.55. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.9per cent to 6,765.50. 

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.7per cent to 29,113.50, while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.4per cent to 3,501.86. 

Stocks have been mostly rallying this week, an encouraging start to February after a late fade in January as volatility spiked amid worries about the timing and scope of another round of stimulus spending by the Biden administration, unease over the effectiveness of the government’s coronavirus vaccine distribution and turbulent swings in GameStop and other stocks hyped on social media. 

Wall Street ended Wednesday with modest gains, with the S&P 500 up 0.1per cent, at 3,830.17. 

 The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1per cent to 30,723.60. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped less than 0.1per cent, to 13,610.54. The index briefly surpassed its all-time high set last week.

Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on support for President Joe Biden’s USD1.9 trillion stimulus package, but investors are betting that the administration will opt for a reconciliation process to get the legislation through Congress. 

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude gained 39 cents to USD56.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. 

 It picked up 93 cents to USD55.69 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 39 cents to USD58.85 a barrel. 

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched up to 105.16 Japanese yen from 105.01 yen. The euro cost USD1.2010, down from USD1.2035.

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