European shares fall, Asia gains as US healthcare vote looms

Japan Financial Markets
A man walks past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Thursday, March 23, 2017. Shares were modestly higher Thursday in Asia after Wall Street steadied overnight. Investors are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Congress on health care legislation that is seen as a bellwether for the capacity of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver on campaign promises for tax and regulatory reform. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

TOKYO/March 23, 2017 (AP)(STL.News) — Global shares were mixed Thursday, as European benchmarks edged lower after a day of gains in Asia. Investors are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Congress on health care legislation that is seen as a bellwether President Donald Trump’s ability to deliver on campaign promises of tax and regulatory reforms.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX was flat at 11,907.38 and the CAC40 in France fell 0.2 percent to 4986.96. Britain’s FTSE 100 was 0.1 percent lower at 7,318.78. U.S. markets looked set for a tepid start with Dow futures down less than 0.1 percent and S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent.

HEALTHCARE VOTE: Republican leaders in Congress were looking to Trump to help win over a crucial bloc of conservatives in supporting the American Health Care Act before a House of Representatives vote on Thursday. Earlier in the week, shares fell on doubts over the outlook for Trump’s agenda of tax cuts and higher infrastructure spending.

ANALYST’S VIEWPOINT: “The implications of the health care reform bill vote may be more pronounced when the results arrive and I would not be surprised to find the market using this vote as a proxy in their expectations for future policies to be passed,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.2 percent to 19,085.31. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat at 24,327.70 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.2 percent to 2,172.72. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent to 3,248.55 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was up 0.4 percent to 5,708.00. Shares were higher in Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil gained 20 cents to $48.25 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 20 cents to $48.04 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 13 cents to $50.77 a barrel. It fell 32 cents to $50.64 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 111.06 yen from 111.17 yen. The euro fell to $1.0775 from $1.0797.

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ELAINE KURTENBACH, AP Business Writer

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