MUMBAI, India (AP) — Signs of strengthening Chinese manufacturing weren't enough to broadly lift world markets Thursday, as investors await key U.S. economic data and digest a slew of bad earnings reports.
European markets opened slightly higher Thursday, while U.S. futures were down and Asian markets were mixed.
"There's no new stimulus packages," said Andrew Holland, chief executive of investment advisory at Ambit Capital in Mumbai. "We're back to fundamentals and the earnings season in the U.S. and Europe is not that great. I'm hoping China will be the one that changes things."
He said he hopes the once-in-decade leadership transition in China next week will bring with it some form of stimulus.
Chinese stocks led gains Thursday, after two manufacturing surveys, one government sanctioned and the other by a private company, both showed improvement for the month of October.
China's Shanghai Composite index rose over 1.7 percent, to 2,104.4, its biggest jump in three weeks. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.8 percent, to 21,821.8. Stocks in Taiwan also gained.
"The positive PMI data suggested a higher demand for material might be needed for economic growth," said Peng Yunliang, an analyst based in Shanghai.
Gains in Japan were tempered by losses at leading electronics manufacturers. Sony Corp. said Thursday it had pared quarterly losses to $193 million, while Sharp Corp. said its losses for the first half of the fiscal year jumped nearly 10-fold, to $4.9 billion. The reports come on the heels of Panasonic's warning Wednesday that it would post a $9.6 billion loss for the fiscal year through March, among the biggest in Japan's manufacturing history and far more than expected. Panasonic stock plunged over 19 percent Thursday.
Investors were also underwhelmed by the Bank of Japan's Tuesday stimulus announcement, a bond-buying program designed to boost growth and combat deflation, said Andrew Sullivan, an independent analyst formerly with Piper Jaffray in Hong Kong.
"There's still concern after the Bank of Japan didn't do as much as the market had hoped for," he said. "Is the government really prepared to act decisively?"
Japan's Nikkei 225 index reversed early losses to gain 0.2 percent, to 8,946.9. South Korea's Kospi was down 0.7 percent at 1,898.4. India's Sensex was up 0.4 percent, to 18,577.8. Indices in New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia all retreated.
European investors shook off Wednesday's reports of record unemployment in the 17-country Eurozone and Greece's worse-than-expected debt forecast as they returned to trading Thursday.
Germany's DAX was up less than 0.1 percent, to 7,264.71 and France's CAC 40 was nearly flat at 3,427.73 in early trade. London's FTSE 100 was up 0.2 percent, at 5,793.69.
U.S. futures slid as investors attempt to sort through the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy and the New York Stock Exchange opens for its second day of trading after being closed for two days because of the storm. Many New Yorkers are still struggling to return to work due to transportation disruptions and power outages.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.3 percent, to 12,994 while the Standard & Poor's 500 futures fell 0.4 percent to 1401.20.
Investors will be keeping an eye out for signs of the true cost of the storm damage as well as a slew of U.S. economic data in the final days before the tight U.S. presidential election. Manufacturing and consumer confidence news will set the stage for Friday's closely-watched non-farm employment data.
Benchmark oil for December delivery rose 26 cents to $86.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as U.S. refineries reopened after the storm.
In currencies, the euro retreated to $1.2925 from $1.2962 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to 79.98 yen from 79.76 yen.
Associated Press researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report from Shanghai.
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