Global shares retreat as investors await Fed chair’s speech

Yuri Kageyama

TOKYO (AP) – Global shares were mostly lower yesterday as investors looked ahead to a much anticipated speech by the chairman of the United States (US) Federal Reserve.

France’s CAC 40 inched down less than 0.1 per cent in early trading to 5,006.48, while Germany’s DAX added 0.2 per cent to 13,084.49. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 per cent to 6,027.32. US shares were set to be mixed with Dow futures at 28,168.0, down 0.1 per cent. S&P 500 futures were up nearly 0.1 per cent at 3,445.88.

The market has meandered recently on snippets of news about the coronavirus, developments on a potential vaccine and other concerns.

Data releases are giving markets “a mixed bag” of signals, such as relatively positive US home sales but a disappointing read on consumer confidence, as fears of more waves of COVID-19 infections persist, said Hayaki Narita, of the Asia & Oceania Treasury Department at Mizuho Bank.

A woman walks past a bank electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index outside a Hong Kong local bank. PHOTO: AP

“Depending on your point of view, data and developments may be encouraging or gloomy,” he said.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished at 23,290.86, down less than 0.1 per cent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.7 per cent to 6,116.40. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.1 per cent to 2,369.32. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was little changed edging up less than 0.1 per cent to 25,491.79, while the Shanghai Composite shed 1.3 per cent to 3,329.74.

Market players are watching for Fed chair Jerome Powell’s speech today. He is expected to discuss next steps for monetary policy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The central bank has slashed short-term rates to nearly zero and is buying all kinds of bonds, which helps drive some investors into the stock market, pushing up share prices.

Benchmark US crude slipped five cents to USD43.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 73 cents to USD43.35 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained six cents to USD45.92 a barrel.

The dollar slipped to JPY106.23 from JPY106.38 on Tuesday. The euro fell to USD1.1812 from USD1.1837.