World shares mixed as investors eye virus counts, stimulus

A currency trader works at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, June 10, 2019. Asian financial markets advanced on Monday after China released better-than-expected trade data for May. Gains were reined in by worries over where the world’s two largest economies stood on trade negotiations. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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HONG KONG (AP) – Shares were mixed in Europe and Asia on Tuesday, after buying of technology stocks nudged the S&P 500 closer to the record high it set in February before the pandemic crunched the global economy.

Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1% to 6,122.05, while the DAX in Frankfurt lost 0.2% to 12,892.19. In Paris, the CAC 40 lost 0.3% to 4,957.26. The future for the S&P 500 edged 0.1% lower, to 3,376.30. The future for the Dow industrials lost 0.2% to 27,734.00.

Markets were buoyed by developments in Washington, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House back into session, cutting short the lawmakers’ summer recess for a vote expected Saturday on legislation to prohibit changes in the U.S. Postal Service amid growing concerns that the Trump administration is trying to undermine the agency ahead of the November election.

The proposed package will also include $25 billion to shore up the Postal Service, which is suffering losses. But prospects for additional economic aid for American workers and businesses remain uncertain after talks on a fresh stimulus package stalled.

Investors say it’s crucial that the support comes, particularly after $600 in weekly unemployment benefits and other stimulus from the U.S. government expired.

Without more help for the U.S. economy, analysts say the recovery that investors have been assuming is on the way won’t materialize. And that assumption is a huge reason the stock market is as high as it is.

Still, on Monday the S&P 500 picked up 0.3% to 3,381.99. Earlier in the day, it briefly crossed above its record closing level of 3,386.15, which was set on Feb. 19 before the pandemic shut down businesses worldwide and created the worst recession in decades.

“The markets are in ‘show me the money’ mode, perhaps erring on the side of caution, not holding their breath for an imminent deal in Congress,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a commentary. “Sadly, this leaves the U.S. real economy waddling and many businesses and millions of consumers getting the short shrift.”

In Asia, South Korea’s Kospi led regional losses, slumping 2.5% to 2,348.24 amid worries over surging coronavirus cases.

South Korean health officials said Tuesday they had found 457 coronavirus cases linked to a huge northern Seoul church led by a bitter critic of the country’s president, driving an alarming rise in infections in the greater capital area.

During a virus briefing, Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Health Institute, said the outbreaks could create a situation comparable to the “miserable scenes of the United States or European countries.”

There’s concern that the virus’s spread could worsen after thousand of protesters, including members of the church and its ultra-right pastor, Jun Kwang-hun, marched in downtown Seoul Saturday despite official pleas to stay home.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.2% to 25,367.38. Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2% to 23,051.08. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8% to 6,123.40, while the Shanghai Composite index edged 0.4% higher, to 3,451.09.

Treasury yields moderated a bit, following a big rally for the 10-year yield last week. It dipped to 0.67% from 0.71% late Friday. It had zoomed upward from 0.56% through last week.

Higher yields suggest investors are upgrading their expectations for inflation and the economy. But they can also pull some buyers away from stocks into bonds, hurting stock prices.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil was flat at $42.89 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 6 cents to $45.43.

In currency dealings, the U.S. dollar weakened to 105.58 Japanese yen from 105.98 yen. The euro rose to $1.1890 from $1.1873.

Gold for delivery in December climbed $17.60 cents to $2,016.30 per ounce.