HONG KONG (AP) — World stock markets were mostly higher Thursday as investors digested the latest corporate earnings and awaited comment from the head of the European Central Bank.
KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent to 5,441 and Germany’s DAX was up 0.1 percent at 12,439. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.1 percent as well, to 7,387. Wall Street was poised to open slightly higher. Dow futures gained 0.3 percent and S&P 500 futures were up 0.4 percent.
EUROPE: The European Central Bank left its key interest rates and monetary stimulus settings unchanged on Thursday, as expected. Investors are now watching for any hints from ECB chief Mario Draghi on the outlook for the eurozone economy and future rate policy. Of particular interest will be any potential impact from global trade tensions on big exporting economies like Germany, which have seen a dip in industrial production in recent months.
EARNINGS: South Korea’s Samsung Electronics reported its net income grew 52 percent in the first quarter on robust demand for its memory chips. Automaker Hyundai’s quarterly profit fell to an eight-year low on slowing sales while German’s Volkswagen said profit slipped because of accounting changes. Energy company Royal Dutch Shell’s profits rose by two-thirds on higher crude prices. Deutsche Bank eked out a profit after a big loss in the previous period. Earlier, U.S. companies reported strong numbers, with aerospace company Boeing and railroad operator Norfolk Southern both topping Wall Street’s estimates.
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YIELDS: Rising interest rates for U.S. Treasurys remained on investors’ minds, with the yield on the 10-year note hovering near 3 percent, having earlier traded above that level. There were worries that markets would be rattled when the yield crossed the 3 percent threshold because it might cause the Federal Reserve to alter its outlook for interest rates but they now appear to be unfounded. Higher rates, which are rising on expectations of stronger U.S. economic growth and inflation, are also helping shore up the dollar.
ASIAN SCORECARD: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.5 percent to 22,319.61 and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.1 percent to 2,475.64 after Samsung reported better than expected earnings. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.1 percent to 30,007.68 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China lost 1.4 percent to 3,075.03. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.2 percent to 5,910.80. Markets in Southeast Asia were lower.
CHINA TENSIONS: A report that U.S. authorities are investigating whether Chinese tech giant Huawei violated sanctions on Iran weighed on Chinese markets and tech shares. It also threatens to rekindle trade tensions between the two countries ahead of a visit to Beijing by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to discuss trade and economic issues. Asked about the report by the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Ministry spokewoman Hua Chuying said China opposes countries imposing unilateral sanctions and urged the U.S. to avoid taking actions that could harm “normal, open, transparent and win-win international trade.”
QUOTEWORTHY: “The market has sort of oversold their equity hand, I think the 3 percent got overplayed,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asian trading at OANDA. On the U.S.-China trade meeting, he added, “With the U.S. making that olive branch offering and making the step to go over there, I think it would be highly unlikely if they didn’t come back with some sort of outcome.”
ENERGY: Oil futures extended gains. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 60 cents to $68.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 35 cents to settle at $68.05 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 76 cents to $74.76 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 109.17 yen from 109.43 yen. The euro was steady at $1.2161.