BEIJING, China – Global stock markets mostly fell Friday after Wall Street slid and Japan’s central bank surprised markets by putting off possible additional stimulus.
KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, France’s CAC 40 fell 1.4 per cent to 4,495.60 and Germany’s DAX lost 1 per cent to 10,214.73. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.8 per cent to 6,268.49. On Thursday, the CAC 40 retreated by 0.7 per cent, the DAX shed 0.4 per cent and the FTSE 100 was off 0.2 per cent. Wall Street looked set to extend its losses, with futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 down 0.1 per cent.
ASIA’S DAY: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.5 per cent to 21,067.05 and India’s Sensex lost 0.4 per cent to 25,491.07. The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.3 per cent to 2,938.32 and Seoul’s Kospi gave up 0.3 per cent to 1,994.15. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines also retreated. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.5 per cent to 5,252.20 and New Zealand also rose. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.
WALL STREET SLIDE: Tech stocks slumped after billionaire investor Carl Icahn revealed he sold his stake in Apple Inc. Icahn wasn’t a major shareholder but investors watch his moves closely. Apple has fallen 15 per cent in two weeks. Other shares moved on takeover news. The Dow lost 1.2 per cent, the S&P fell 0.9 per cent and the Nasdaq composite shed 1.2 per cent for its sixth straight daily decline.
JAPANESE STIMULUS: The Bank of Japan surprised investors by deciding against adding to its huge stimulus for the world’s third-largest economy. Investors wanted to see that because inflation and consumer spending are weak, largely because the yen has gotten stronger. The bank’s decision to wait “will erode further investor confidence” in its ability to achieve its inflation target, Chris Weston of IG said in a report. On Thursday, the Nikkei 225 tumbled by an unusually wide daily margin of 3.6 per cent.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Expect short-term share market volatility to remain high as we head into May,” with global growth fragile and the Fed preparing markets for an eventual rate hike, Shane Oliver of AMP Capital said in a report. “However, beyond near-term volatility, we still see shares trending higher this year helped by a combination of relatively attractive valuations, further global monetary easing and continuing moderate global economic growth.”
LOWER U.S. GROWTH: The U.S. economy grew a bit less than expected in the first quarter. The government said gross domestic product increased 0.5 per cent as consumer spending slowed down, exports fell and business investment plunged. That was the weakest result in two years, but experts think the economy will bounce back in the current quarter.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 3 cents to $46.00 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 80 cents on Thursday to close at $46.03. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 2 cents to $47.75 in London. It added 84 cents the previous session to $47.77.
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 107.24 from Thursday’s 108.12. The euro rose to $1.1393 from $1.1352.