World shares mixed ahead of central bank decisions

TOKYO (AP) — Shares were mixed in Europe and Asia yesterday as investors awaited central bank decisions and earnings reports due out in coming weeks. United States (US) stock markets will be closed in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday.

France’s CAC 40 declined 0.3 per cent to 6,084.84, while Germany’s DAX shed 0.1 per cent to 13,507.39. Britain’s FTSE 100 was almost unchanged at 7,672.05. US shares were set to drift lower, with Dow futures down 0.1 per cent to 29,244.00. The S&P 500 future contract also edged 0.1 per cent lower, to 3,320.30.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged 0.2 per cent higher to close at 24,083.51, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 per cent to 7,079.50. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.5 per cent to 2,262.64, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.9 per cent to 28,800.63. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.7 per cent to 3,095.79.

China’s central bank left its one-year loan prime rate unchanged at 4.15 per cent, holding off on easing credit further as it uses other methods to pump up liquidity in the markets ahead of the Lunar New Year.

The rate, based on quotes from major banks, was made China’s benchmark last August. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) can indirectly influence it through it’s own interest rate decisions, and “appears to have adopted a wait-and-see approach in response to the recent improvement in the economic data,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

A woman walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo yesterday. PHOTO: AP

However, “with growth likely to come under renewed pressure, we think the PBOC will resume its rate cuts before long,” he said.

Elsewhere, investors are looking to a statement from the Bank of Japan when its two-day policy meeting ends today. The European central bank will make an interest rate decision later in the week. Markets are also watching for earnings reports expected in coming weeks by companies around the world.

Last Friday, Wall Street capped a milestone-setting week with more modest gains that nudged the major stock indexes to all-time highs.

The benchmark S&P 500 index also notched its second-straight weekly gain.

Technology stocks powered much of the market’s broad gains, along with communication services companies and banks. Energy sector stocks were the only decliners. Bond prices fell, sending yields higher.

The latest batch of positive corporate earnings reports and economic data has helped keep investors in a buying mood after the midweek signing of an initial trade deal by the US and China. Progress on trade has eased fears on Wall Street about the potential for the dispute to escalate further.

ENERGY

Benchmark crude oil rose 52 cents to USD59.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 67 cents to USD65.52 a barrel.

CURRENCIES

The dollar rose to JPY110.16 from JPY110.13 last Friday. The euro rose to USD1.1094 from USD1.1191.