European markets resilient despite big drop in Chinese stocks; Wall Street back for short day

LONDON – European stock markets recouped earlier losses to trade little changed Friday despite an earlier big fall in China’s main stock index, which suffered in the wake of news that investigations into the securities industry has widened to include two top brokerages.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France’s CAC 40 was up 0.2 per cent at 4,954 while Germany’s DAX was unchanged at 11,318. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.2 per cent at 6,378. Wall Street traders were set to return to their desk after the Thanksgiving holiday for what is likely to be a subdued abbreviated session. Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures are both up 0.1 per cent.

BLACK FRIDAY: The main focus on Wall Street’s return will likely centre on retail stocks because of Black Friday, when millions of Americans venture to shops the day after Thanksgiving in search of bargains.

ANALYST TAKE: “Traders will be waiting to see who is first to report ‘record sales’ from today’s shopping bonanza,” said Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG. “As ever the devil will be in the detail, and seasoned traders are only too aware that record sales do not automatically translate into record profits.”

CHINA PROBE: Earlier, the news that two major Chinese brokerages were under investigation for possible violation of securities market rules, in what is the latest aftershock of this summer’s market plunge. A string of Chinese securities executives have been detained or questioned following a plunge in share prices that began in early June. The investigations were seen by many as an attempt by the ruling Communist Party to deflect blame for a market bubble that it engineered.

ASIA’S DAY: China’s Shanghai Composite ended 5.5 per cent lower at 3,436.30. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 retreated 0.3 per cent to 19,883.94 and South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.1 per cent at 2,028.99. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.9 per cent to 22,068.32.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 76 cents at $42.28 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 7 cents to trade at $45.38 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: Trading in the foreign exchange markets was fairly subdued, with the euro down 0.2 per cent at $1.0586 and the dollar flat at 122.63 yen.