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Global stocks mixed after Wall Street falls on virus worries

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets were mixed Wednesday after Wall Street declined as hopes for a possible coronavirus vaccine were tempered by worries about the pandemic's continuing impact.

London, Tokyo and Frankfurt retreated, while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.

Traders have been encouraged by announcements of progress toward a possible vaccine. But growing infection numbers in the United States and Europe have raised the threat of renewed restrictions on business and movement.

“The reality of rising COVID-19 cases got hold of financial markets,” Mizuho Bank said in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.5% to 6,332.47 and the DAX in Frankfurt shed 0.9% to 6,365.33. The CAC 40 in Paris declined 0.6% to 5,452.12.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 0.2%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.5% after U.S. retail sales growth fell to 0.3% in October from September's 1.6%. The figure fell short of forecasts for 0.5% growth.

That was “a warning shot that COVID-19 is still with us, and its effects will not miraculously disappear overnight,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2% to 3,347.30 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.5% to 26,544.29.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 1.1% to 25,728.14 after October exports declined 0.2% from a year earlier.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.3% to 2,545.64 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 added 0.4% to 6,531.10.

India's Sensex gained 0.4% to 44,127.85. New Zealand and Bangkok declined while other Southeast Asian markets advanced.

On Tuesday, the Dow fell 0.6% while the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.2%.

The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said the American economy has a “long way to go” before it returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Powell warned the “next few months may be very challenging." He said the Fed is committed to supporting a recovery.

Stocks that stormed higher this month on hopes that a vaccine or two may get the global economy back to normal next year receded.

Extra unemployment benefits that helped to support U.S. consumer spending have expired. Progress on a possible new aid plan in Congress is slow.

“The concern is that people will lose confidence in efforts to control the pandemic,” Powell said. “We’re seeing signs of that already.”

Pharmacy stocks were among the biggest decliners after e-commerce giant Amazon opened online sales to compete with them. Rite-Aid lost 16.3% and Walgreens Boots Alliance dropped 9.6%. Amazon ticked up 0.1%.

Tesla rose 8.2% following an announcement that it will join the S&P 500 index next month. It is set to become one of the biggest stocks in the index after soaring nearly 390% this year.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 14 cents to $41.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 9 cents on Tuesday to $41.43. Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, gained 25 cents to $44.00 per barrel in London. It lost 7 cents the previous session to $43.75.

The dollar declined to 103.93 yen from Tuesday's 104.21 yen. The euro rose to $1.1885 from $1.1864.

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