Global shares mixed over concerns about oil tankers, trade

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mixed Friday as investors weighed a variety of factors, including alleged attacks on two tankers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and lingering worries about trade conflict between the U.S. and China.

France’s CAC 40 fell 0.3% to 5,360.73 in early trading, and Germany’s DAX dipped 0.5% to 12,111.63. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged down 0.3% to 7,346.21. U.S. shares were set to drift lower with Dow futures down 0.1% to 26,101. S&P 500 futures were down 0.2% at 2,893.90.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.4% to finish at 21,116.89. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2% to 6,554.00. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.4% to 2,095.41. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.7% to 27,118.35, while the Shanghai Composite fell nearly 1.0% to 2 2,881.97.

Gains in energy and internet companies helped drive stocks broadly higher on Wall Street overnight, snapping a two-day losing streak for the market in an otherwise choppy week of trading.

Investors have been searching for direction as they cautiously await any new developments in the trade war between the U.S. and China. Any continued escalation could crimp global economic growth and halt what is poised to be the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.

The market is also looking ahead to next week’s meeting of policyholders of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Last week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell set off a market rally after he signaled that the central bank is willing to cut interest rates to help stabilize the economy if the trade war between Washington and Beijing starts to reduce growth.

The alleged attacks in the Strait of Hormuz come amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. One third of all oil traded by sea, which amounts to 20% of oil traded worldwide, passes through the strait. The ship owners have not described in detail how their tankers were damaged, and Iran has denied it was involved.

Economists Nicholas Mapa and Prakash Sakpal said in a report for ING that the market tone for the day was “wait and watch.”

“Setting the mixed tone for markets today, escalation of geopolitical tensions in the Gulf region counters the positive investor sentiment from rising expectations of the U.S. Fed easing,” the report said.

ENERGY:

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 27 cents to $52.01. It rose 2.2% to settle at $52.28 a barrel Thursday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 12 cents to $61.19 a barrel.

CURRENCIES:

The dollar fell to 108.22 yen from 108.44 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.1286 from $1.1294.