World stocks mixed on China worries, US earnings

Associated Press

HONG KONG (AP) — World stocks fluctuated Tuesday as a Wall Street rally powered by positive earnings reports offset investor cautiousness before a report on Chinese manufacturing and possible sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

Japan's Nikkei changed course during the day to lead Asian markets lower after the yen strengthened.

In early European trading, Germany's DAX rose 1 percent to 9,503.27 while France's CAC 40 added 0.6 percent to 4,457.66. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies rose 0.8 percent to 6,680.26.

U.S. stocks were poised to edge lower. Dow futures dipped less than 0.1 percent to 16,364.00 while broader S&P futures declined less than 0.1 percent to 1,863.70.

Asian stocks got a small lift after the U.S. stock market turned in its longest winning streak in half a year as earnings season kicked off on Monday with companies such as toy maker Hasbro and online video service Netflix reporting healthy profits.

But sentiment was restrained ahead of a preliminary purchasing managers' index report by HSBC on activity in China's huge manufacturing sector expected Wednesday that could provide further evidence of a slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy.

Oil slipped but stayed above $104 barrel amid the tension in Ukraine. The U.S. has warned it will quickly order new economic sanctions on Russian officials and entities if Moscow doesn't follow through on provisions in an accord last week aimed at stemming the crisis.

"An improvement in risk appetite through U.S. hours yesterday did not make it through to the Asian session intact," strategists at Rabobank said in a report.

In a sign that Chinese authorities could end a freeze on IPOs, the securities regulator posted prospectuses for 28 companies over the weekend, the report said, "sparking concerns that existing equities could be sold to free up funds. Nervousness over this week's forthcoming release of the HSBC manufacturing PMI index was also cited as a reason for concern."

Asian trading was also quieter because of a holiday-shortened week that included Easter Monday in some markets and Anzac Day on Friday in Australia and New Zealand.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 benchmark index fell 0.9 percent to close at 14,388.77 while South Korea's Kospi edged 0.3 percent higher to 2,004.22.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent to 22,730.68 while the Shanghai Composite index advanced 0.3 percent to 2,072.83. Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 5,479.30.

Oil shed 28 cents to $104.09 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid concern about tensions in Ukraine, where violence continued as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in a high-profile visit to push for urgent implementation of the accord to defuse tensions. Concern that Russian gas supplies could be disrupted if sanctions are imposed helped push the contract up 7 cents in the previous session to settle at $104.37.

In currency markets, the U.S. dollar fell 0.1 percent to 102.54 yen and the euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.3803.

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