World markets weighed by downbeat earnings

Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — World markets mostly edged lower on Friday as corporate earnings results made investors cautious of chasing stocks to new highs.

On Thursday, earnings from retailer Best Buy and investment banks Goldman Sachs and Citigroup disappointed. That was followed Friday by oil company Shell and UPS, which both warned that fourth-quarter earnings would be worse than expected. Morgan Stanley saw its profit fall as well, though not as much as analysts had feared.

Economic data failed to pick up sentiment, with official figures showing a dip in U.S. home construction in December but a rise in industrial production.

By midafternoon in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was down almost 0.1 percent 6,813.28. France's CAC-40 edged up 0.2 percent to 4,327.76, while Germany's DAX was flat at 9,721.82.

Wall Street lack momentum on the open. The Dow was up almost 0.1 percent at 16,427.35 but the S&P 500 dropped 0.2 percent to 1,842.15, drawing it further from the record closing high it touched this week.

Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia, said the recent record set by the S&P was making investors reconsider their appetite for stocks.

"Investors will get a little bit nervous at high levels," he said. "They'd really like to see the earnings come out just to back up the theory that the U.S. markets are on the mend."

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed 0.1 percent lower at 15,734.46. China's Shanghai Composite index sank 0.9 percent to 2,004.95, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6 percent to 23,133.35 after slipping in early trading.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent, South Korea's Kospi was down 0.7 percent, while most Southeast Asian markets finished higher.

Benchmark crude for February delivery rose 3 cents to $93.99 in electronic trading on the New York Merchantile Exchange. The contract fell 21 cents to settle at $93.96 on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro fell 0.4 percent against the dollar, to $1.3572, while the U.S. currency was flat against the Japanese yen, at 104.33 yen.

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