KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – European stocks were mostly higher Thursday while Asian shares were mixed after a weak session on Wall Street. Tokyo shares rebounded after a weak start as the yen weakened against the U.S. dollar.
KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 rose 0.2 per cent at 4,325.09 and Germany’s DAX gained 0.1 per cent to 9,986.52. Britain’s FTSE 100 was nearly flat at 6,158.38. Dow and S&P 500 futures rose 0.4, suggesting a positive start for Thursday trading.
BRITISH FACTOR: A raft of data is due out later Thursday and traders are watching for further clues on monetary policy from a speech by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, especially in light of Britain’s referendum on continued EU membership due next month.
TOYOTA PROFIT: Shares in Toyota Motor Corp. fell 1.4 per cent after a 6.1 per cent drop overnight in New York. On Wednesday, the company projected a 35 per cent plunge in profit for the fiscal year through March 2017 as the perks of a favourable exchange rate fade, and it reported a 4 per cent drop in profit for January-March on-year. Other exporters can expect similar woes thanks to the yen’s recent gains against the U.S. dollar.
OIL PRICES: Already trading at its highest price in six months, benchmark U.S. crude rose overnight after the government reported a surprise decline of 3.4 million barrels in supplies for last week and a 6 per cent reduction in U.S. oil output. U.S. oil gained 1 cent to $46.24 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $1.57, or 3.5 per cent, to $46.23 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international benchmark, gained 5 cents to $47.65 a barrel. It had jumped $2.08, or 4.6 per cent, to $47.60 a barrel in London.
ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “Commodity stocks are among the few positive movers today, following a major oil rally on the back of U.S. evidence consumption is eating into the historically high stock piles of crude,” Michael McCarthy of CMC Markets said in a commentary. “This better demand picture combined with a slightly weaker USD makes energy and materials the sectors du jour.”
ASIA’s DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.4 per cent to 16,646.34, while the Hang Seng index of Hong Kong dropped 0.7 per cent to 19,915.46. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.1 per cent to 1,977.49 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 per cent to 5,359.30. Taiwan fell but most benchmarks in Southeast Asia rose.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.99 yen from 108.40 in the previous session. The euro slipped to $1.1413 from $1.1424. The yen-dollar rate has “slipped back down to 108 levels, as a short-squeeze in the early week abated with no more official talk of intervention yesterday, while markets are also doubting if Japan would intervene in advance of the G7 summit,” Mizuho Bank Ltd. (Singapore branch) said in a commentary.