World stock markets mixed ahead of US government unemployment report for April

BANGKOK – World stock markets were mixed Friday as investors held back ahead of the release of the U.S. government’s monthly unemployment report.

European stock markets were largely flat before the U.S. Labor Department’s release of nonfarm payrolls for April. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose marginally to 6,464.54. Germany’s DAX rose 0.1 per cent to 7,970.94. France’s CAC-40 slipped less than 0.1 per cent to 3,857.51.

Wall Street futures fell slightly. Dow Jones industrial futures dropped less than 0.1 per cent to 14,749 and S&P 500 futures shed 0.1 per cent to 1,590.30.

A fall in U.S. jobless benefit claims and higher profits from CBS, Facebook and other companies sent U.S. stocks higher Thursday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.1 per cent to 22,689.96. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.4 per cent to 1,965.71. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged at 5,129.50.

“The market is basically riding on the U.S. market’s rise today,” said Francis Lun, chief economist at GE Oriental Financial Group in Hong Kong.

Mainland Chinese stocks posted sharp gains, but that was mostly due to bargain-hunting after a sharp fall, Lun said. The Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.4 per cent to 2,205.5 while the Shenzhen Composite Index gained 2 per cent to 936.58.

Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.

An interest rate cut by the European Central Bank gave markets in Europe a small lift Thursday. The central bank, which sets interest rates for the 17 European Union countries that use the euro, cut the rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a record low of 0.5 per cent.

The decision was widely anticipated following a grim run of economic data for the eurozone, which is expected to stay in recession when first-quarter figures are released later this month.

“Importantly, core countries have been increasingly affected by weakening growth prospects and it remains to be seen whether the German economy can rebound strongly any time soon,” said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in a market commentary.

Among individual stocks, Hong Kong-listed property and consumer shares posted solid gains. Evergrande Real Estate Group rose 1.9 per cent. Instant noodle maker Tingyi Holding Corp. rose 1.5 per cent.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 42 cents to $93.57 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.96, or 3.3 per cent, to finish at $93.99 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday, the biggest one-day gain for crude since November.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3133 from $1.3058 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose slightly to 98.09 yen from 97.96 yen.


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