Shares were mixed in early European trading Thursday and Asian benchmarks mostly fell after the U.S. dollar weakened against other major currencies.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1 percent to 13,395.05 and the CAC 40 in France rose 0.2 percent to 5,505.67. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.1 percent higher to 7,651.97. Wall Street looked set for a slow start with both S&P 500 futures and Dow futures nearly flat.
THE DAY IN ASIA: Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 1.1 percent to 23,669.49 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.9 percent to 32,654.45. South Korea’s Kospi surged 1.0 percent to 2,562.23 while the S&P/ ASX 200 in Australia fell 0.1 percent to 6,050.00. The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3 percent to 3,548.31 and India’s Sensex dipped 0.5 percent to 35,975.44. Shares rose in Taiwan and Thailand but fell in Singapore and Indonesia.
DAVOS FACTOR: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the U.S is “not concerned” about the value of the dollar in the short-term. At a press briefing at the World Economic Forum on Thursday, Mnuchin said the short-term value of the dollar is dependent on many factors, a day after sparking a big dollar sell-off by saying the dollar’s recent weakness was “good” for trade. The euro, for example, spiked to a three-year high.
ANALYST’S VIEWPOINT: “The overnight focus had all been on the U.S. dollar with another jab sending the currency weaker against major currencies,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. “Meanwhile, concern over trade and protectionism is currently the new flavor of the month, adding a tinge of cautiousness in the latest equity surge.”
CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped below 109 yen but was trading late Thursday Tokyo time at 109.08 yen, down from 109.22 yen late Wednesday. The euro slipped to $1.2408 from $1.2411. The ICE U.S. dollar index fell almost 10 percent in 2017 and is down 3 percent so far this year.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 51 cents to $66.12 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.14, or 1.8 percent, to $65.61 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 31 cents to $70.84 per barrel. It added 57 cents to $70.53 a barrel in London.