World stocks slip as investors mull China growth report

HONG KONG – World stock markets were mostly lower Friday as investors assessed a report on Chinese quarterly economic growth. Market players were also watching for cues on currencies and other policies from a meeting in Washington, D.C., of financial ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 leading industrial nations.

KEEPING SCORE: European stocks slipped in early trading, with Britain’s FTSE 100 down 0.3 per cent to 6,348.99 and France’s CAC 40 shedding 0.5 per cent to 4,489.40. Germany’s DAX lost 0.6 per cent to 10,035.64. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, with Dow futures down 0.1 per cent to 17,826.00 and the broader S&P 500 futures dipping 0.2 per cent to 2,073.30.

CHINA GROWTH: Official data showed that China’s economy slowed further in the latest quarter, with growth easing to 6.7, which was the lowest in seven years. There were few surprises for investors in the figures, which were largely in line with economists’ forecasts and suggest that the world’s largest economy is on track to meet the official full-year growth target.

MARKET INSIGHT: “There are a lot who doubt the current market rally at the moment, particularly when the S&P 500 is so close to its all-time highs. And yet, in a world where one-third of government bonds have negative yields, there is a strong incentive to increase one’s equity allocation in pursuit of positive returns,” Angus Nicholson of IG said in a commentary.

ASIAN SCORECARD: The benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan shed 0.4 per cent to close at 16,848.03, while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.1 per cent to 2,014.71. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1 per cent to 21,316.47 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China eased 0.1 per cent to 3,078.12. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.7 per cent to 5,224.10. Taiwan rose and Southeast Asian benchmarks were mixed.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 54 cents to $40.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 26 cents to settle at $41.50 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, dropped 45 cents to $43.39 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.40 yen from 109.37 yen in the previous day’s trading and the euro edged lower to $1.1260 from $1.1266.