Shares opened mostly lower in Europe and Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday as Chinese benchmarks were lifted by hopes for fresh support for the country’s faltering property market.
Germany’s DAX lost 0.5% to 15,695.66 and the CAC 40 in Paris sank 0.9% to 7,186.56. Britain’s FTSE declined 0.9% to 7,371.08.
The future for the S&P 500 was down 0.2%, while that for the Dow industrials edged 0.1% lower.
Losses in Hong Kong were trimmed by surging prices for heavyweight property companies after a Chinese media report raised hopes for new measures to prop up the real estate sector.
The official newspaper Securities Times ran an article urging that restrictions on sales of property in smaller cities be lifted. Such limits have been used to prevent markets from overheating due to speculative buying, but the long slump in the industry justifies a rollback of those precautions, the article said.
Chinese real estate developers have been struggling to meet their payment obligations after the government cracked down on lending and the market slowed during and after the pandemic.
Country Garden, an industry leader facing massive liabilities in the slowing market, gained 20.8%. The developer announced Tuesday that it had managed to avoid defaulting on debt payments within the grace period after missing the payment deadline last month.
China Evergrande Group ‘s shares rocketed 80%. The troubled Chinese real estate developer has $340 billion in debt and has asked a U.S. court to approve a restructuring plan for foreign bondholders.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged less than 0.1% lower to 18,449.98 while the Shanghai Composite index was 0.1% higher at 3,158.08.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.6% to 33,241.02. In Seoul, the Kospi declined 0.7% to 2,563.34.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia slipped 0.8% to 7,257.10 after the government reported the economy grew at a 2.3% annual pace in the last quarter. In quarterly terms, it expanded a modest 0.2%. The figures were in line with expectations.
India’s Sensex shed 0.3%.
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.4%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.6%. The Nasdaq slipped 0.1% and the Russell 2000 slid 2.1% to 1,880.45.
Coming off the Labor Day holiday in the U.S., investors have few economic reports to look forward to this week, while the latest round of corporate earnings is essentially finished.
The Institute for Supply Management releases its latest report on the U.S. services sector on Wednesday. The services sector employs most Americans and is a big component of the economy. Its health could provide more insight into how inflation is affecting consumer spending.
Wall Street will also get updates on aspects of the manufacturing sector and consumer credit. DocuSign, GameStop, Dave & Buster’s and Kroger are set to report their most recent quarterly financial results this week.
Investors are hoping that the Fed might moderate interest rate increases to fight inflation, which has been easing for months.
Wall Street expects the Fed to hold its benchmark interest rate steady at its next meeting later in September, just as it did at its previous meeting. Investors are mostly betting that the central bank will maintain that pause through the rest of the year.
The central bank has raised its main interest rate aggressively since 2022 to rein inflation back to the Fed’s target of 2%. Several measures of inflation have gotten closer to that target and the economy is still growing, alleviating concerns that the rate hikes might push the U.S. economy into recession.
Those concerns have lessened as inflation has cooled, while the economy remains resilient.
Still, crude oil prices pulled back Wednesday after recent gains that had threatened to add to upward pressure on prices.
U.S. benchmark crude oil gave up 33 cents to $86.36 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange early Wednesday. It gained $1.44 on Tuesday.
Brent crude, the pricing standard for international trading, shed 42 cents to $89.62 a barrel.
In currency dealings, the dollar slipped to 147.39 Japanese yen from 147.73 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.0731 from $1.0721.