TOKYO – World stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday as Ukraine tensions continued to bubble and jitters about China’s economy resurfaced.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.6 per cent at 22,671.26 as a drop in China’s money supply unnerved investors ahead of first quarter economic growth figures due Wednesday. China’s Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.4 per cent to 2,101.60.
China’s leaders are targeting growth of 7.5 per cent this year for the world’s second-biggest economy. But exports and imports have been weak in the first quarter, suggesting the economy is slowing and raising the risk of job’s losses. China’s growth of 7.7 per cent last year tied 2012 for the slowest since 1999.
In early European trading, France’s CAC 40 was down 0.3 per cent at 4,371.80 and Germany’s DAX fell 0.7 per cent to 9,275.32. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.2 per cent to 6,568.48.
Futures augured a down session on Wall Street. Dow Jones and S&P 500 futures were both down 0.1 per cent.
Global stock markets suffered last week over concerns that technology stocks are overvalued and nervousness about the crisis in the Ukraine.
In the latest Ukraine development, two pro-Russian politicians have been attacked by pro-Ukrainian activists in the capital Kyiv as tensions grow over unrest in eastern parts of Ukraine, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized government buildings in nearly 10 cities.
Ukrainian and Western officials have accused Moscow of instigating a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine. That raised the prospect of more sanctions against Russia, possibly affecting the valuable energy trade.
In Asia, South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.2 per cent to 1,992.27 while Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 per cent to close at 13,996.81. The dollar holding close to 102 yen levels also helped underpin Tokyo share prices. A weak yen is a plus for many Japanese companies because they rely on exports.
Stock markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6 per cent to 5,388.20.
In addition to China’s GDP figures, analysts said players were cautious ahead of key data and news in coming days including U.S. consumer prices and a speech by the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
“No one is likely to get too carried away given the spate of potential game changing data and announcements pending in the next 48 hours,” William Leys, sales trader at CMC Markets in Sydney said in a report.
The dollar was trading at 101.88 yen, inching up from 101.83 late Monday. The euro fell to $1.3799 from $1.3823.
Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was down 90 cents at $103.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 31 cents Monday to settle at $104.05.
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