World shares gain, FTSE 100 flat pending fresh Brexit plan
BANGKOK (AP) — World markets were mostly higher on Tuesday, with European benchmarks flat as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson readied a fresh plan for leaving the European Union.
The FTSE 100 was almost unchanged at 7,407.39, while the CAC 40 in Paris also was steady, at 5,676.01. Germany's DAX likewise was flat, at 12,431.54. Futures on Wall Street pointed to gains, with the contract for the S&P 500 up 0.3% to 2,985.90 and that for the Dow up 0.3% at 26,978.00.
Chinese markets were closed for the National Day holiday marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. In Beijing, the event was marked by a military parade showcasing the country's growing might, while in Hong Kong thousands clad in black took to the streets in protests that show no signs of abating after four months of increasingly violent demonstrations.
Johnson said his government was preparing to make firm proposals for a new divorce deal with the EU.
Britain is due to leave the 28-nation bloc at the end of this month, and EU leaders have grown impatient with the lack of detailed plans for maintaining an open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland — the key sticking point to a deal.
Johnson said details of the plan would come "very soon" after a governing Conservative Party conference in Manchester, northern England, ends Wednesday.
In Asian trading, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index picked up 0.6%, to 21,885.24, despite the release of weak economic data and an increase in the national sales tax that was put off for years out of fears it might stall growth.
The hike in the consumption tax to 10% from 8% is needed to help repair national finances as the government contends with steep increases in costs for elder care as the Japan's population shrinks and ages. But past tax hikes have pushed the economy into recession and this one comes at a time when growth has already been hit by the trade war between the U.S. and China.
"The decline was most pronounced among manufacturers whose confidence hit a several-year low amid intensified trade frictions and tepid export demand," Stefan Angrick of Oxford Economics said in a commentary.
"We expect external demand weakness and uncertainty to continue to weigh on sentiment."
Sydney's S&P ASX 200 jumped 0.8% to 6,741.10 after the Reserve Bank of Australia followed the lead of the Federal Reserve and other central banks in cutting its key interest rate, to a record low 0.75%.
"Put simply, Australian economic growth has slowed sharply below its long-term potential reflecting the housing downturn and weak consumer spending," Shane Oliver of AMP Capital said in a commentary.
Elsewhere, India's Sensex dropped 1.1% to 38,227.19 while the Kospi in South Korea climbed 0.5% to 2,072.42. Shares rose in Taiwan and Singapore but fell in Jakarta and Bangkok.
Overnight, U.S. stocks climbed as investors were encouraged by China's announcement that its top trade negotiator will lead talks with the United States that are expected to take place next week. The Trump administration also calmed some worries that it may limit U.S. investment in Chinese companies.
Trump shocked markets in August when he said he'd raise tariffs on Chinese goods, and the announcement sent stocks and bond yields reeling. The S&P 500 dropped more than 6% in the weeks following July 26, when it set its last record. But stocks began climbing again in September as both sides made conciliatory moves to ease tensions.
Still, a slew of uncertainties, including the impeachment inquiry into Trump, have left businesses reluctant to spend due to the trade war.
In the next few weeks, companies are scheduled to tell investors how much profit they made during the third quarter. Expectations are generally low again, with analysts forecasting a drop of nearly 4% from a year ago.
Benchmark U.S. crude added 65 cents to $54.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.84 to settle at $54.07 per barrel Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 72 cents to $59.97 per barrel. It fell $1.13 to $60.78 a barrel in London.
The dollar rose to 108.39 Japanese yen from 108.09 yen on Monday. The euro weakened to $1.0891 from $1.0900.