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World shares mixed, China gains on talks of help for economy

AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mixed Wednesday, with European shares advancing after a retreat in Asia, though mainland Chinese stocks rebounded as Beijing redoubled confidence-boosting efforts with promises of more support for the slowing economy.

U.S. futures were higher and oil prices also rose, but modestly.

The focus was on energy markets. Gas prices surged as much as 24% in Europe and the euro weakened after Russia said it would cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Faith Birol, head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency called Moscow’s decision a “weaponization of energy supplies,” and said the organization would support the two countries while encouraging other European countries to reduce reliance on oil and gas from Russia.

“The move increases the possibility of a near-term stand-off between Russia and the rest of the EU on whether to meet Russia’s demand to pay for gas in rubles,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

France’s CAC 40 gained 0.4% in early trading to 6,436.83. Germany’s DAX edged up 0.3% to 13,803.24. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2% to 7,399.85. The future for the Dow industrials gained 1.1% while that for the S&P 500 added 1.0%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite index gained 2.5% and the smaller Shenzhen benchmark jumped 4% after state media reported various efforts by the ruling Communist Party to counter the blow to the economy from pandemic lockdowns in dozens of cities and resulting disruptions to trade and manufacturing.

Among various moves by the central bank and other regulators, a meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs chaired by President Xi Jinping on Tuesday backed the building of infrastructure “conducive to China’s industrial development and national security,” the Communist Party newspaper Global Times reported.

Analysts said investors are watching for the outcome of a meeting of the party’s powerful Politburo this week for further measures to boost slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

“Given the COVID-related downward pressure on the economy, we expect more policy easing to support growth, and the government has been ramping up policy support recently,” Tao Wang of UBS said in a report.

Elsewhere in Asia, stocks tracked an overnight rout on Wall Street.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 dropped 1.2% to 26,386.63 after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced measures to help poor families and small businesses cope with rising prices and a weakening currency.

Little change was expected from a two-day policy meeting of the central bank that ends Thursday. The Bank of Japan has sent a clear message about keeping interest rates ultra-low to help encourage spending and investment and has bought Japanese government bonds periodically, aiming to keep 10-year-bond yields within a range of plus or minus 0.25%.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi slipped 1.1% to 2,639.06 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was little changed at 19,946.36.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.8% to 7,261.20 as strong inflation data reinforced expectations that the central bank will push ahead with interest rate hikes.

The war in Ukraine, apart from the risks of broader conflict, has pushed already inflated prices for many commodities and goods still higher, complicating the economic outlook and posing hardships for many businesses and consumers.

Earnings for industrial and retail companies are a key focus for the rest of the week. Airplane maker Boeing reports its results on Wednesday. Industrial bellwether Caterpillar announces earnings on Thursday, along with McDonald’s and Amazon.

With the U.S. Federal Reserve also set to aggressively hike rates as it steps up its fight against inflation, traders are less and less willing to endure the lofty prices they had been paying for Microsoft, Facebook’s parent company Meta, and other tech giants.

Several big technology companies also are due to report earnings this week, including Meta on Wednesday, and Apple on Thursday.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude gained 83 cents to $102.53 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Its price rose 3.2% on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international pricing standard, picked up 94 cents to $105.56 per barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 127.93 Japanese yen from 127.23 yen late Tuesday. The euro cost $1.0621, down from $1.0639 and near a five-year low.

Article Topic Follows: AP National Business

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