In midday trading in Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.7 percent to 7,178 after EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he remains downbeat on the prospect of Britain avoiding a chaotic exit from the bloc next month. Germany’s DAX index advanced 0.4 percent to 11,443 while France’s CAC 40 added 0.1 percent to 5,201.
On Wall Street, the future for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was roughly unchanged. The future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1 percent.
Investors were looking ahead to talks in Washington on a fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions ahead of a March 2 deadline for a possible U.S. tariff hike. Neither government has released details but companies saw the decision to hold more talks as a sign of progress.
U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday the talks were “going very well.” Trump has suggested he might postpone the tariff hike on $200 billion of goods but made no firm commitment.
Meanwhile, investors were reassured by minutes to the last policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve showing the central bank will be patient with interest rate hikes amid economic uncertainty.
A lack of details in the Fed’s report “leaves the region to await further US-China developments,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a report. After markets rose on Trump’s positive comments, she said, “one should not be surprised” to see more gains.
In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.1 percent to 21,464.23 while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3 percent to 2,751.80. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 0.3 percent higher at 28,600.54 and Seoul’s Kospi was off 1 point at 2,228.66. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent to 6,139.20 and India’s Sensex added 0.4 percent to 35,912.25. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Taiwan and Southeast Asia also advanced. India’s Sensex shed 0.1 percent to 35,721.75.
JAPANESE MANUFACTURING: The preliminary reading on a monthly purchasing managers’ index fell to 48.5 on a 100-point scale from January’s 50.3. It was the second unusually large monthly decline and the PMI’s lowest level since October 2016. “Such large falls are rare and suggest that the economy is losing momentum rapidly,” said Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics in a report.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 20 cents to $57.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract gained 71 cents on Wednesday to $57.16. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 11 cents to $67.19 per barrel in London. It gained 63 cents the previous session to $67.08.
CURRENCIES: The dollar edged down to 110.75 yen from Wednesday’s 110.85 yen. The euro gained to $1.1356 from $1.1336.