Global shares slip on profit-taking, hopes grow for recovery

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mostly lower yesterday as investors sold to lock in profits from the recent rally driven by hopes economies will gradually return to a pre-pandemic normal.

France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.3 per cent in early trading to 5,768.12, while Germany’s DAX dipped 0.5 per cent to 14,000.90. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.2 per cent to 6,733.87. United States (US) shares were set to meander with Dow futures little changed at 31,462. The S&P 500 future contract was up less than 0.1 per cent at 3,928.38.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.6 per cent to finish at 30,292.19, even as the vaccination drive against COVID-19 began, starting with healthcare workers. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.9 per cent to 3,133.73. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.5 per cent to 6,885.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.1 per cent to 31,084.94. Trading was closed in Shanghai for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Hopes are high for Japan’s economy will see a recovery later this year, especially if the Tokyo Olympics are held as scheduled in July. But growth will likely slow next year and the year after that, senior economist for SMBC Nikko Securities Yoshimasa Maruyama said in a report.

The vaccine rollout in Japan and a recovery of exports as overseas economies rebound will prove key for the Japanese economy, he said.

About 40,000 healthcare workers were in the group getting their first vaccine dose in Japan and are scheduled to receive their second dose beginning March 10. Vaccines for 3.7 million more health workers are set to begin in March.

Shares of Toyota Motor Corp slipped after Japan’s top automaker said 14 assembly lines at nine of its plants in Japan were being halted for up to four days, starting yesterday, because of the effects of the recent earthquake that shook northeastern Japan.

The automaker did not give details but said the stoppage was caused by a shortage of auto parts. Thousands of parts go into a vehicle. Toyota has 15 plants in Japan. The affected lines make, among other vehicles, Lexus models, the Prius hybrid and the RAV4 sport utility vehicle.

On Wall Street, indexes closed mostly lower on Tuesday as losses in healthcare and technology companies kept gains in energy and other sectors of the market in check.

Rising bond yields, a sign of confidence in the economic outlook and expectations of rising inflation, are weighing on sentiment, analysts said.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped back to 1.28 per cent from 1.29 per cent on late Tuesday, the highest level in a year. Bank stocks make broad gains on higher yields, which allow them to charge more lucrative interest rates on loans. But utilities and real estate stocks, bond proxies that can look less attractive when bond yields rise, were among the biggest decliners.