Global shares mixed amid tug of war between hope, fear

Global shares are mixed in muted trading amid a continuing conflict between current worries about the worsening pandemic and optimism that vaccines will rescue the economy in the future

France’s CAC 40 rose 0.2% in early trading to 5,487.73, while Germany’s DAX dipped slightly to 13,085.18. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained nearly 0.3% to 6,351.14. U.S. shares were set to drift lower with Dow futures falling 0.5% to 29,295. S&P 500 futures were down 0.4% at 3,565.88.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.4% to finish at 25,527.37. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.1% to 6,539.20. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2% to 2,553.50. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.4% to 26,451.54, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.4% to 3,377.73.

Investors were looking ahead to data that will be out next week on the health of regional economies, including India, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, and also Taiwan and Singapore.

“The focus next week in Asia will be the extent of India’s bounce back in the third quarter, as the data in October underscores the renewed threat to the region from the second wave of the pandemic,” said Prakash Sakpal, senior economist Asia at ING.

Japan, which is heading into a three-day weekend, has had its optimism dashed by record daily COVID-19 cases. Although Japan has had fewer deaths related to the pandemic — under 2,000 — compared to harder-hit nations, worries are growing about a need for stricter restrictions on travel and anti-infection measures.

With infections and hospitalizations on the rise across much of the country, governors and mayors are grudgingly issuing mask mandates, limiting the size of gatherings, banning indoor restaurant dining, closing gyms and restricting the hours and capacity of other businesses.

Democrats and Republicans in Washington are still stymied in their attempts to deliver another dose of financial support to workers and businesses. That has the specter of a bleak winter looming for both the health care system and the economy.

Counterbalancing all those fears is hope that coming vaccines can control the pandemic and get the global economy back toward normal next year.

“The market is grappling with the push and pull of the progress with the vaccine track, which allows a window to when our economy can reopen, with the current reality of rising cases,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

University of Oxford scientists expect to report results from the late-stage trials of the COVID-19 vaccine they’re developing with AstraZeneca by Christmas, according to a researcher. Already this month, pharmaceutical companies have offered data suggesting other vaccines under development could be highly effective. Pfizer and BioNTech have said they plan to ask U.S. regulators within days to allow emergency use of their vaccine.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 13 cents to $41.61 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 4 cents to $44.24 a barrel.

In currency trading, the dollar inched down to 103.88 Japanese yen from 103.98 yen. The euro cost $1.1871, up from $1.1834.


AP Business Writers Stan Choe, Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.