Global stocks trade mixed amid worries about China, US economies

Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Asian shares were trading mixed Tuesday as investors took a wait-and-see view on the week ahead, which promises reports on some of the market’s biggest worries, including stubbornly high inflation across the economy. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were trading mixed Wednesday as Japan’s benchmark jumped on the news of solid economic growth data, while the rest of Asia was mired in uncertainty.

In Europe, France’s CAC 40 declined nearly 0.1% in early trading to 7,399.51, while Germany’s DAX added 0.3% to 15,950.96. Britain’s FTSE 100 was slightly higher, inching up less than 0.1% to 7,755.25. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures up 0.3% at 33,150.00. S&P 500 futures rose 0.2% to 4,132.00.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.8% to finish at 30,093.59. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.5% to 7,199.20 after a better-than-expected wage increase report. The wage price index rose 3.7% year on year. But that could mean an interest rate hike in coming months, according to some analysts.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6% to 2,494.66. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 2.1% to 19,560.57, while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2% to 3,284.23.

Japan’s encouraging GDP data released earlier in the day showed consumption was rebounding after COVID-19-related restrictions were eased and borders opened to tourists.

Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, grew at an annual pace of 1.6% in the quarter through March, according to the Cabinet Office. That was the strongest GDP growth pace since April-June 2022 marked a 1.1% growth. The main negative came from declining exports due to sluggish global demand.

“Sluggish external demand remains a concern over the near term,” said Harumi Taguchi, principal economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, adding that the growth may taper off.

“As real compensation of employees declined at a faster pace, weaker purchasing power will continue to make consumers selective,” she said.

Concerns about the Chinese and United States economies weighed on investor sentiments. Oil prices declined.

“Recent Chinese economic data pointing to a slower-than-expected recovery, falling short of consensus estimates, are adding to these concerns. Despite some rebound in consumer spending, there are mounting concerns that the bulk of China’s recovery may already be in the rearview mirror,” said Anderson Alves at ActivTrades.

In the U.S., big retailers including Target and Walmart are scheduled to report their results later this week. They’re under the microscope because resilient spending by U.S. households has been one of the main positives keeping the economy from sliding into a recession.

If it buckles, a recession may be assured. The pressure is on because measures of confidence among shoppers have been on the decline. Manufacturing and other areas of the economy have already cracked under the weight of much higher interest rates meant to bring down inflation.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 13 cents to $70.73 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, edged down 18 cents to $74.73 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 137.00 Japanese yen from 136.36 yen. The euro cost $1.0839, down from $1.0868.