World shares mixed as virus, China-US strains weigh on mood

BANGKOK (AP) — World shares were mixed Friday as rising coronavirus cases and tensions between the U.S. and China weighed on sentiment.

Stocks fell in Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul but rose in London and Hong Kong. U.S. futures edged higher.

The Biden administration was expected to soon issue a warning to U.S. firms about risks of doing business in Hong Kong, adding to strains between the two biggest economies.

A resurgence of coronavirus cases across Asia and signs of rebounds elsewhere has cast uncertainty over recoveries in the region.

“The virus situation across Southeast Asia has gone from bad to worse over the past couple of weeks, with Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam all reporting a record high number of daily cases. While vaccine rollouts have accelerated in recent weeks, coverage across most of the region is still very low,” Capital Economics said in a report Friday.

The relapses have led governments to reimpose pandemic restrictions that will stifle business activity and slow a revival of travel, it noted.

The Bank of Japan kept its policy settings intact Friday but downgraded its growth forecast for the current fiscal year slightly, to 3.5%-4% from 3.5%-4.4%. It said the outlook for the world’s No. 3 economy was “highly unclear” and depends on how the COVID-19 situation unfolds.

Tokyo reported a 6-month high number of new cases on Thursday, 1,308, just over a week before the Olympic Games are due to begin a year later than originally planned due to the pandemic. With most of its population not fully vaccinated, many in Japan worry the Olympics will raise the risks of further outbreaks at a time when the delta variant of COVID-19 is causing flare-ups worldwide.

In European trading, Germany’s DAX added 0.3% to 15,677.11 and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.1% to 6,485.50. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3% to 7,037.05.

The future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.2% higher while that for the S&P 500 picked up 0.1%.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 1% to 28,003.08. In Seoul, the Kospi declined 0.3% to 3,276.91. The Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.7% to 3,539.30. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained less than 0.1% to 28,004.68. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.2% to 7,348.10.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 4,360.03 and is track for its first weekly loss in four weeks. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 0.7% to 14,543.13. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to 34,987.02. The Russell 2000 index of small cap stocks lost 0.6% to 2,190.29.

Investors are watching where the economy is headed as the pandemic wanes and waiting to see what companies have to say about how higher inflation is affecting their businesses.

Many companies will begin reporting next week when earnings season gets into full swing.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.32% from 1.30% late Thursday.

In other trading Friday, U.S. benchmark crude oil reversed earlier losses, gaining 37 cents to $72.02 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up $1.48 to $71.65 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international pricing standard, climbed 32 cents to $73.79 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 110.12 Japanese yen from 109.85 yen. The euro rose to $1.1819 from $1.1813.

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